Prevue asked Jana Stern, ING Financial Services’ Director of Conventions & Conference Planning and FICP Board Member, her thoughts on the trends revolving around incentive programs.
A: I believe it was a media-generated issue and their perception of incentives in the financial industry. Incentives, as a part of a company’s overall sales and compensation package, have been around forever; and not just in our industry. The media attention has shifted, but we are all keenly aware of public perception and offering complete transparency to our stakeholders.
Q: Do cultural venues/experiences fit into incentive programs?
A: Definitely! Focus on experiences that are not easy to do as an individual and leave a lasting impression. A breakfast meeting at a coffee shop in Vienna. Dinner on the stage at the Opera House in Budapest. Stomping grapes in Italy. These are activities that incentive programs can offer that most people will never experience.
Q: What can planners do to add value to incentives?
A: Know your audience. What makes them happy? Is it the room with a view or do they like large bathrooms? Or is it their name in lights from the first day? Most people travel on their own frequently whether it be for business or pleasure. What they don’t get, what we can offer, is the extra touches and feeling like someone has their back.
Q: Are there more business meetings during incentives?
A: People are busy so they want to combine their business with pleasure. If they’re with senior management, they want to talk about the business at hand instead of having to follow up via email. These trips are a way for the independent producer who works in a one-person shop to network and brainstorm with people who do exactly what they do. We know that the best relationships are formed in face-to-face meetings.
Q: How much does F&B play a role in incentive programs?
A: It’s about making sure that each individual’s needs are met. Expensive steak dinners don’t appeal anymore; our qualifiers want to know that we know their dietary needs. Being creative with food and beverage goes hand in hand with offering them experiences they would probably not have on vacation.
Q: Is the concept of 5-diamond “luxury” coming back into vogue for incentives?
A: We all want to compensate our top performers. Luxury means different things to different people. The key is to find something that you can offer a top qualifier that will make them feel like the only top performer.