Fond Memories Your recent Up Front column (September CMI) brought tears to my eyes! As you may recall, I was part of your group in the Philippines in 1993. Like you, I have often wondered what happened to the tree that I planted near yours on Corregidor Island. Your thoughtful comments and the great photo really made my day!

I attend fam trips as part of my work, but have never had another experience as moving as that one. It was so simple and inexpensive - yet so special. The Philippine Department of Tourism showed much more innovative thinking than I have seen anywhere else in the world.

Some day, I will return to see my tree and hope that you, too, will be able to visit yours.

Carl Mertens, President, The Texas Connection, San Antonio, Texas

Help Make a Difference Your editorial, "It All Begins with You" (September CMI), struck two chords. The first: In the 1950s, in synagogues across America, we children were asked to bring in our change to buy trees to plant in Israel. Israel, still in its infancy, needed our help. Cousins who live in Israel now say it made a difference.

On another chord, I believe we are here to help others. Yet although so many new people in our industry want mentors, many senior people seem too busy or in other ways unwilling to mentor others. We've all had help, and it's important to help those in our communities and in our industry improve and grow.

Joan Eisenstodt, President, Eisenstodt Associates Washington, D.C.

It's Not So Easy to Measure ROI I'm writing regarding the article "Make Your Incentives Pay Off" in your September issue. As an expert in this area who makes a living doing exactly this for companies, I was distressed by this story. Telling companies that they can get a return of 150 percent on their incentive program is like telling the traveling public that they can go on a 10-day tour for $999.

I entered the incentive industry because it speaks to business issues and decisions that are based on solid business facts. Telling a story about ROI that is so far from reality does nothing but cause the incentive industry to appear just like the retail travel industry - and I don't think we want to go there.

Many factors come into play when computing ROI on incentives. The basic facts tell you that incentives cause increases in productivity, whether those increases earn awards or not. This has a ripple effect on the company: Production, accounting, personnel, etc., all feel the impact. This article's scenario depicts that happening with no impact on costs. It assumes gross profits remain intact. Neither is likely to happen.

The article missed the mark. Bob Dawson, CITE, Managing Director, The Business Group, Rocklin, Calif.

Bruce Tepper Replies: The examples presented in the article are not pie in the sky, nor are they fictitious. In my experience with designing incentive programs, my clients often achieved returns of 150 percent or more based on one simple arithmetic calculation: The total incremental gross profit over the anticipated level of performance without the program, divided by the investment in the program, to achieve that return. The impact on costs you describe can certainly occur. At the same time, the ripple effect may cause improved efficiency in other areas. For example, a highly successful sales program will probably increase production costs. In a well-designed program, the contribution from additional sales should still outweigh those increased costs.

Incidentally, there are a number of 10-day tours for $999 that are legitimate and worth every cent. Like anything else, the value is in the eyes of the beholder.

Bruce Tepper, CITE, CTC,Vice President, Joselyn, Tepper & Associates Inc., San Francisco, Calif.

Green Team I received my copy of the article regarding Interface's earth-friendly meetings, "Going Green" (May CMI).

The people at Interface thank you for it, and our founder and chairman, Ray Anderson, was very pleased. Mr. Anderson and I are constantly working to better the wonderful earth in our own little way.

Coleen Isom, Director of Events, Interface Inc. Atlanta, Ga.