Denise Ker has planned and promoted a lot of corporate incentive conferences. She’s also a video blogger, or “vlogger,” who noticed that the authenticity and immediacy of that type of communication really got people engaged.

What does one have to do with the other? It’s the background that explains Ker’s flash of inspiration for a reward for incentive qualifiers in 2011 that will double as a very cool promotional tool for 2012.

Candid, Not Canned
“Over a decade of doing incentive programs, I’m used to making the scripted promotional video for an incentive contest that you play at the annual sales meeting,” says Ker, executive director and owner of Viva! Event and Destination Management in Portland, Ore. But Ker recognized that this type of canned approach has lost its impact—and it’s expensive, to boot. She thought, “With the technology available today, there must be a different, more authentic, more genuine way to do this.”

Having been hired to develop and plan the 2011 Masters incentive conference for for communications and network company Tektronix Communications, Ker pitched them her idea: In each qualifier’s award packet, she would include a Flip video camera with a teaser to wait for further instructions. Two weeks later, she would send e-mail explaining that qualifiers should shoot 30- to 60-second videos offering one tip or technique that enabled the attendee to achieve 2010 Master status. Creators of the best or most creative videos would get to choose one of three extra rewards on site at the 2011 incentive conference.

The promotional payoff would come in 2012, with Ker knitting together the video entries (as well as clips shot by attendees at the conference) to create a promotional piece that would candidly capture the experience of the real people out there working for, earning, and attending the Masters event.

"The Flip'n Over Masters campaign was innovative and a great way to give the event a renewed sense of energy and focus," says Lyn Cantor, president of Tektronix Communications. “By using the videos from the 2011 event, we'll be able to reduce production expenses in planning next year’s Masters, pulling from a catalog of promotional items at literally no expense to the company."

On-Site Bonding
The Tektronix Masters incentive conference celebrates the Plano, Texas–based company’s top sales achievers worldwide. In April 2011, 40 earners and guests from 14 countries joined corporate executives at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Oahu, Hawaii.

As with all incentive conferences, an important goal is for attendees to bond and network with each other and with corporate business leaders. Ker extended the video plan to help with that as well. Instructed to bring their Flip cameras with them to the meeting, attendees were asked to shoot video whenever they were inspired, both during teambuilding events and throughout the conference.

“They had a ton of fun, and it created a platform for them to engage with each other and connect in a different way,” Ker says. “It brought a whole different dynamic, and it helped some of the ‘significant others’ engage as well. In fact, we found that some of them were extremely creative and really took ownership of the on-site videos.” Teams got points whenever they downloaded video footage onto two computers set up at the registration area. The teams with the most points going into the final teambuilding activity were in a great position to win the overall competition.

As for the winners of the individual pre-meeting video contest, they had the choice of an in-room spa appointment for two; a private limo transfer from the airport with champagne and chocolate; or a private poolside cabana for a day. “There was a lot of excitement when they received the perks on site,” Ker says. “Some said it was an additional way to say ‘thank you’ to their significant other.”

And those who had not submitted videos to the contest definitely heard about it from their guests! Ker expects an increase in submissions next year. “There was a little peer pressure,” she laughs. “And now that we have the ability to show the videos from last year, we can say, ‘Here are some ideas.’ This is an easy, innovative, and cost-effective way to promote the event, while also awarding the attendees.”