Corporate Incentive Event Planning: Key Considerations for a Successful Program

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Corporate incentive programs undeniably help motivate employees to reach new levels of success, boost morale, and provide much-needed employee recognition. With the right planning and resources, basic recognition programs can be transformed into experiences that will be the talk of your company. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when planning your next corporate incentive event.

Clearly define your goals.

Whether you are looking to propel employees to the next level of product sales or stay competitive within your industry, keeping company goals top of mind is imperative to effective incentive program planning. If you cannot define success, you cannot craft an experience that will drive the results you’re looking for. Here are some goals you may want to consider when determining the best format for your incentive event.

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  • Employee recognition
  • Networking/employee relationship building opportunities
  • Improved employee engagement and morale
  • Industry distinction
  • Changing customers’ perceptions
  • Employee performance motivation
  • Executive/manager recognition
  • Creating press coverage
  • Stimulating social media coverage
  • Supporting above the line marketing activities

Define your budget. Utilize your resources.

Even small budgets can have a big impact when strategically utilizing your resources.

  • Sponsors are an incredible financial resource for incentive programs. Sponsor companies may be able to pick up the tab on a percentage of the total event cost. They may also provide branded or interactive gifting options or sponsor a specific piece of an event that your base budget may not allow for. Create sponsorship packages that are mutually beneficial and easy to sell. Make your top-level sponsor feel truly appreciated with exclusive opportunities to sponsor key pieces of the event and get access to the teams they need to be in front of.
  • Incentive event management companies can save you both time and money. Experienced event planners will keep your team on track with timelines and guidance on critical decisions. Cut costs by utilizing the bulk discounts event professionals can secure and benefit from their industry relationships. Leave it to the experts!

Big budgets can also pay off in a big way. If you are asking for exemplary work from your employees, the incentive program provided should be an exemplary reward. Exclusive incentives for top tier performers should warrant an incentive event that fits the bill. Allocating a hearty budget for incentive events may save your company money in the long run through increased employee performance and high rates of employee retention.

Know your audience.

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Employee recognition comes in many forms. Incentive program design should be driven by what your team values most—be it luxury gifts, time spent away with family, or exclusive experiences. The art of recognizing employees in a way that makes them feel appreciated and understood can go a long way. Formal acknowledgment from top executives may make more of an impact than expensive gifts or pricey entertainment. Understanding your employees and the factors they place the highest value on will allow you to customize your event in ways that will be most meaningful to them.

Ensure the time is right.

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Thoughtful consideration surrounding the timing of your incentive is critical to participation. Start planning in advance and share dates with employees as soon as possible to allow ample time for proactive planning. Stay away from corporate busy seasons and year-end deadlines, keeping the calendars of all departments in mind.

If your incentive is in the form of a vacation and you have chosen a destination, be cognizant of overcrowded tourist seasons and the off-season for that destination. Striking the perfect balance between your corporate calendar and your preferred destination’s sweet spot will pay off.

Give attendees something to talk about.

When planning an incentive event, you are not just building an event, you are creating an experience—ideally one that cannot be replicated by an individual. So, what’s trending?

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  • Experiences. Research has shown that experiences make people happier than possessions. Memorable incentive travel and once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences will be a topic of conversation that spans a lifetime.
  • Health and wellness. From yoga retreats to spa days, wellness is trending both inside and out of the workplace.
  • Giving back. According to the Dallas Business Journal doing good not only makes the world a better place but has numerous benefits for the volunteer. Corporate give back events have been proven to boost employee morale, decrease stress, increase self-esteem and generate positive feelings toward one’s employer.
  • Local flavor. Incorporating local entertainment, historic venues, authentic experiences, and flavors of the region will help your group feel completely removed from the office and immersed in the culture. 
  • Reconsider cash rewards. According to the Incentive Research Foundation, “non-cash rewards are viewed as much more likely to be remembered and specifically appreciated by the employee as compared to cash.” Incentive buyouts and cash rewards also remove opportunities for networking, teambuilding, and shared experiences.

Learn from your experiences.

Post-event feedback surveys are invaluable for gaining insight into the attendee experience. All attendees process experiences and emotions differently. If not explicitly asked about various aspects of your event, you may miss out on key intel. Encourage attendees to speak out about both the exceptional and potentially concerning components of your event. There is always room for improvement and giving employees a forum to ensure that they are feeling heard is invaluable.

The benefits of throwing a great corporate event are immeasurable. By strategically thinking through some of the key factors that will shape your event you can ensure that it will truly pay off!

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