Burlington Air Express Winners Get Their Day In Hollywood "Give winners the full glamour treatment! Take them to Paramount Studios where they can write and star in a series of zany commercials."

That was the winning "script" devised by Sandy Amorde, principal of Amorde Incentive Marketing, Irvine, CA, for Burlington Air Express, her longtime Southern California client.

Each year, Burlington honors its Inner Circle, the top five percent of its domestic sales force. Although Hawaii was the original incentive destination, this year Burlington chose to bring the reward closer to home. Amorde planned to transform each day into a typical California experience.

The 32 qualifiers kicked off the trip with a beach party welcoming them to Newport Beach, where they stayed at the Hyatt Newporter. They had a taste of Northern California with an awards banquet at the nearby Robert Mondavi Food and Wine Center, and they sailed the ocean on a private yacht in Newport Harbor, the event's finale. But most memorable was their brush with glamour, Hollywood-style. On a fully decorated soundstage, teams starred in their own productions, complete with a professional crew. Working with Whirl-a-Round Destination Management Company, Amorde created what Paramount Studios called "the most ambitious interactive private event ever staged at their studios."

Weeks before the incentive, Paramount gave Burlington a choice of plot lines for the impending commercials. Choosing a "Mission Impossible"-style theme, Burlington then grouped winners and their guests into teams of six or seven.

"Should you decide to accept your mission, e-mail or telephone each other to pick a name for your production company," winners were instructed. Invitations ended with a reminder that "this letter will self-destruct in 30 seconds." Teams picked a title from a hat and wrote an impromptu script. Since only one team could film at a time, Amorde saw to it that the fledgling stars were treated like Hollywood royalty throughout the day. Each had black-and-white glamour shots taken by a Hollywood photographer, sat for a portrait by a caricature artist, toured the studio, and enjoyed a buffet lunch, with ample time for rehearsal and costume and prop selection.

"The Paramount team was so professional, it was just as if they were working with Cybill Shepherd and Mel Gibson," says Amorde.

After filming, the Paramount team edited the three-minute spots into a single reel. Two days later it was shown to the Burlington teams, who voted for the best in Academy Awards-style balloting. During the final night cruise, winners received miniature Academy Awards.

"The Inner Circle is known for pushing people to their limits," says Dana Pisciotti, manager sales administration for Burlington Air Express. "This did a lot for teambuilding. The experience made everyone feel very special."

Capitalizing on its Georgia heritage, Greenfield Industries invited its distributors to "Go for the Gold" in an incentive program that optimized every conceivable Olympics tie-in. However, the prize was not a trip to Atlanta, but a one-week luxury Caribbean cruise during the Olympics on Celebrity Cruise Lines' Century.

Greenfield and incentive supplier Motivaction, in Minneapolis, didn't miss a single promotional opportunity to strengthen distributor relationships, build loyalty, and increase distributor purchases by 15 percent.

The program, announced at a distributors convention, was reinforced by nine monthly mailings, called "Qualifying Heats," each sent with a custom-logoed Olympics mailer and enclosure card. Among the promotional gifts: a key protector for beach use, a sport bottle, and a watch.

Gold winners could achieve up to three all-expense-paid trips for two; silver and bronze qualifiers could buy in to the trip. Each winner received a commemorative medal and ribbon.

On board, 50 winners, their guests, and company hosts enjoyed their own private "Olympic Village" in the ship's convention center. A giant-screen TV with satellite hook-up broadcast the Games live. There were a series of team events, such as cycling, basketball, and javelin. Room gifts included underwater cameras, engraved frames and albums, and commemorative books.