The top incentive
travel programs of the year
Most Effective Team Effort in Producing an Incentive Program or Event: Pacific World China for BMW U.K.
Partners: Grassroots, Sofitel Wanda Beijing, JW Marriott Beijing, Air Berlin, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa
The annual weeklong BMW U.K. Dealer Business Conference rewards the 350 top-performing dealers. In addition, there is always an exchange between the U.K. team and their BMW counterparts in the selected destination—in this case, Beijing.
The coordination of such a highly customized effort for a group this size in Beijing was massive. The program used more than 20 off-site restaurants, three government venues, more than 20 entertainment performances, and 60 professional tour guides. They visited 10 historic sites, and for the gala dinner at the Forbidden City, hired 400 professional servers.
Since automotive company incentive participants tend to be well-traveled, the planners went to great lengths to impress. The, Pacific World, drew on its long-established relationships with local authorities to obtain access to unique and historic venues that were usually off-limits. Using these connections, they overcame challenges that arose around security, transportation, power supply, even tent construction. Pacific World also coordinated with local authorities to ensure that security clearance issues wouldn’t arise on the day trip to Xian. Guests were able to pre-check and easily board their chartered flights.
Since most of the attendees had already visited the Great Wall, BMW arranged a special preservation visit, allowing participants the opportunity to help restore a dilapidated section of the wall. Each member of the BMW team who wished to participate was given a brick to place on the broken wall, and in turn, received a certificate for his or her contribution.
Exceptional Motivational Travel Program – Europe: Bluestone SRL for Philips Lighting
Partners: Gattinoni & Co SRL, Azimut Societa’ Cooperativa
Each year, Philips’ global quality improvement competition attracts participation from thousands of the company’s employees, with the best entries being rewarded with a travel incentive.
The European semi-finals were the next step after the national competitions, and finalists from the event would go on to compete in the world finals. When Philips and its agency Gattinoni & Co looked to hold the event in Taormina, Sicily, they turned to the team at BlueStone to produce five waves held back-to-back for 400 qualifiers.
As a theme, BlueStone invited guests to become part of the world of the The Godfather and immerse themselves in a Sicilian experience, the highlight of which was a gala dinner in a 200-year-old Sicilian villa that was transformed into Don Corleone’s mansion. This was also the evening when the winning QIC projects were announced and celebrated.
For the next day’s, participants were armed with cameras and a guidebook and required to capture specific images. A farewell dinner featured a more contemporary Sicily in a high-class disco-restaurant and included images of the day and awards for the teams who won the photo competition.
Most Impactful Effort Toward Corporate Social Responsibility & Exceptional Motivational Travel Program – Africa, Middle East: Walthers DMC for KPMG Meijburg & Co.
Partners: Eventions, The Table Bay Hotel, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, KLM, and Bateleur Air Charter
KPMG is one of the most prominent tax law firms in the Netherlands, employing more than 750 international tax law professionals. Finding top graduate school talent is challenging in Holland; the top honors/masters graduates are highly sought after.
Out of this challenge, a unique motivational program was born for these potential recruits and existing KPMG Meijburg employees, who qualify based on the previous year’s performance. The program is used to review the interns to make sure they are a good fit for the company. For those who demonstrate the desired qualities, KPMG Meijberg covers all post-graduate study costs, including tuition fees, living expenses, and internship training.
Both groups travel together, and these diverse demographics were one challenge of this program to South Africa, set up by Eventions and DMC Walthers. In addition to exploring Cape Town and a safari experience at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, the group spent a day improving conditions at the Ezweni Combined School. They installed two waterless toilets (it has no running water or electricity), refurbished two rooms, and built 100 desks with the help of 20 local contactors who were hired for the event. They also donated books and classroom and sports supplies.
Located on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park in Lillydale, Ezweni has 500 students, ages four to 18. It receives no government support because of its English-language focus. There are minimal educational materials and equipment, and approximately 10 percent of its students are HIV/AIDS orphans. Since there is high unemployment in the area, it receives little private little funding. However, KPMG Meijburg has supported improvements since 2009 and it is now the company’s corporate charity.
The visit to Ezweni had many logistical challenges, from language and cultural differences to washed-out roads in rural areas. Even lunch was a test: With no running water or refrigeration and high temperatures, the delivery of 540 lunches had to be timed to minimize trucks waiting in the sun. Huge bottles of water were delivered, and waterless handwash ensured hygiene.
The program has made a significant impact on the Lillydale community and school leaders hope one day to be able to accommodate 1,000 children.
Best Destination-Based Experiential Incentive Travel Program: Dragonfly Africa for Fuji Xerox Australia
Partners: Conference Focus Australia, Royal Livingstone Hotel, Loudfire, African Impact, Qantas, British Airways, South African Airways, Bushtracks Africa
With the help of Dragonfly Africa and Conference Focus, Fuji’s group of 106 incentive qualifiers and their guests experienced the journey of a lifetime to Zambia and Botswana, including a tour of Victoria Falls, elephant interactions, and dinner on the Royal Livingstone Hotel lawns. Optional excursions were more daring, such as flying over Victoria Falls in a microlight, bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge, and gorge swinging in the Victoria Gorge.
As aexperience, the group took a day trip to Botswana’s Chobe National Park and a visit to Mulwani Basic School in Botswana. The planners ensured passage into Botswana by stationing a team at the checkpoint ahead of time. They were also forced to work amidst limited road and communication networks. With help from two charities—African Impact and the Happy Africa Foundation—the group was given supplies to paint the school in the morning, then spent the afternoon playing soccer with the students.
Best Destination-Based Experiential Incentive Travel Program & Exceptional Motivational Travel Program – Asia Pacific: Creative Travel Ltd. for Colt Technology Services U.K.
Partners: Universal WorldEvents U.K., Zuri KZumarakom Resort, Vivanta by Taj – Malabar Hotel
Colt asked its agency partner, Universal WorldEvents U.K., to make its eighth annual Inner Circle recognition program a departure from the conventional, and the resulting decision was to take the group to Kerala, India, an enchanting destination, but not one that’s on the incentive map.
Colt employees nominated and voted for the winners via a dedicated program Web site. In total, 900 nominations were made and 4,800 Colt employees cast votes to determine the 91 winners.
Among the trip’s highlights were a spectacular temple festival in the backwater area of Kumarakom, complete with elephants, decorations, and musicians. The official crowning of the winners was held on Gundu Island, an uninhabited island on the Arabian Sea, which was recreated as a traditional Kerala Village. Everything, from the tables and décor to the dance floor, had to be shipped from the mainland for the event.
Amway China’s annual travel award program honors its leading 15,000 salespeople by hosting them on a weeklong meeting and incentive trip. When the group selected the Los Angeles and Anaheim, Calif., area as its destination, EventWorks was challenged with developing and delivering an unforgettable program that would welcome five groups of 3,000 sales leaders each, spread over a month. The jewel of the trip was a gala evening for each wave, themed “You Are a Star.”
Communications were a challenge. It took research and effort to design a logo that would resonate with the Chinese participants. Also, to transcend the language barrier, each show relied on entertainment choices with universal appeal. In a multisensory experience, the honorees were thrilled and engaged by five American acts, a Taiwanese pop star, and 50 additional musicians, stilt walkers, athletes, aerialists, puppeteers, and dancers.
To satisfy social responsibility and environmental concerns, menu options addressed all possible cultural needs. Vegetables were grown and harvested locally, and seafood was purchased under the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines. They chose long-lasting floral arrangements with succulents and air plants and kept them fresh in a refrigerator.
Since each of the five evenings had to be meticulously replicated, EventWorks occupied the venue for an entire month. They built tiered seating and elaborate staging that remained fixed throughout the program. And for each of the five waves, the talent, both local and national, was brought back to re-create the experience.
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