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Want to ensure your incentive trip goes off without a hitch? Avoid these three common pitfalls.


Many clients get excited to be able to offer their attendees an incentive. With that excitement often comes an over-reaction to do whatever possible to get the incentive announced ASAP. Many times this becomes the biggest mistake. Clients ask us to select a hotel for them, sometimes within 3-4 days’ time, and to push out the marketing piece by the end of that same week.

When we rush through this hotel site selection / sourcing process, the client limits their ability to get the best concessions as the hotel sees the signs and knows the client is desperate, reducing leverage. In addition, the client foregoes a site inspection. While this isn’t an issue if we can guarantee the client we know the hotel and how it performs for groups, it becomes a challenge especially if the client has high expectations. Many clients also rush through this process without closely looking at the budget analysis we put in front of them, missing the key signs that this hotel may present a financial risk.


The second common issue we see from some of our clients is that they don’t invest the time necessary to promote the incentive and to keep it in front of their audience. With so many messages reaching this group on a daily basis, their message has to be designed to grab attendee attention and provide them with the ability to get excited and maintain their excitement throughout the ramp up or qualification period. Without a well-thought out promotional campaign, many incentives fall short and unfortunately, clients can move into attrition which doesn’t make anyone happy when the client has to pay hotel penalty fees.


And finally, no incentive trip truly sets sail without the senior management’s approval and support. Your top performers want a connection to the top person, regardless if they have a sensational relationship with their sales representative or other leadership members. Find ways to allow attendees to meet casually with this person(s) and in a non-threatening way. We’ve seen focus groups go astray so quickly and ruin a great incentive – instead create positive gathering points interspersed throughout the event so that your attendees can share a few thoughts, some details about their personal life, and which strengthens interaction between the company and the attendees.

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