SITE's Crystal Awards have defined incentive success for 21 years. They stand for the most innovative and creative incentive ideas in the industry, and are highly respected by planners around the world. Simply the best.

This year's winners used technology in innovative ways, offered creative themes, and cooked up combinations of travel and merchandise awards that qualifiers just had to win. The programs also created extraordinary returns for the winning companies — in one case an estimated 100:1 dollar return on revenue.

The Crystals were presented December 4, at a black-tie gala at the Society's International Conference, held this year in Lisbon, Portugal.

Two programs, both aimed at driving sales from critical distribution channels, took honors in the “Creative Use of an Incentive Program to Solve a Marketing Problem” category. First-place winner Compaq Computer New Zealand's reseller program had to drive “program-savvy” resellers to focus sales efforts on Compaq products and away from competitors (among them Toshiba, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard). The company saw a 31 percent increase in sales of nontraditional areas, such as services, support, and financial services, all in a year that saw participation in competitor programs fall by 43 percent. (For more on the program, see page 24.) The planner was Eugene de Villiers, from The Extra Mile Co., Ltd., Ellerslie, New Zealand.

Hit Series

The second-place winner was Simmons Co., manufacturer of Beautyrest and BackCare matresses. Its baseball-themed program — “Sales to the Series” — was designed to motivate retailers to recommend its brands over competitive lines during a three-month period. Planner William Bryson of MotivAction, Minneapolis, designed the program to peak during the baseball season. Sales reps earned their choice of merchandise awards, including a Nolan Ryan — autographed ball and a bat signed by Hank Aaron, and could qualify for a trip for two to the World Series.

The campaign more than doubled interest, generating 6,340 enrolled reps. Simmons reported a return on revenue of 100:1.

Bryson also took second place in the category “Outstanding Single Event” for client Carpet One by staging a party on the streets of Beijing. Guests crossed an elegantly carved ice bridge to find carts at an outdoor market, street vendors, and chefs holding cooking demonstrations.

First place in that category went to Harith Wickrema of Harith Productions Ltd., Orleand, Pa., for a program at Atlantis Paradise Island for client Metiom, a B2B e-commerce startup. Despite a limited budget and at times “impossible” time constraints, he created a “Night of the Gods” party, with each course designed around the myth of Atlantis.

Trip Standouts

In the category “Trip Delivery, ” winners from IBM's Enterprise Systems Division spent 10 days visiting five African countries, starting with a surprise helicopter tour over Cape Town, followed by travel by vintage trains and autos, canoes, and Jeeps throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia. Evening cocktails on a vintage railway car parked on a bridge overlooking Victoria Falls were a special highlight. IBM measured the program's success by the 17.4 percent increase in sales during the campaign, and the fact that every employee who qualified for the trip was still with the company six months after the program.

Second place in “Trip Delivery” went to Swiss insurance company Die Mobiliar. Worldspan International designed the incentive trip to Zermatt, Switzerland, around a secret-agent theme, “Mission Mobiliar.” As part of the activities, the group was invited to a surprise video “briefing,” where Mobiliar's distribution manager informed them a la Mission Impossible that their job was to find a stolen ampule before it fell into enemy hands. Equipped with video cameras, each group was asked to film its hunt. The groups reconvened for an Alpine lunch at the foot of the Matterhorn, where the ampules were located, and that evening, participants celebrated their success at a party.

Sweet Teasers

In “Promotions and Communication,” first-place winner Zurich Payroll Solutions promoted a Vancouver and Whistler trip with teasers such as a birch bark canoe filled with maple-leaf-shaped chocolates, candied salmon, and a cedar box with a pine-scented candle. The planner was Mark Jarrell, The Meeting Architects, San Francisco.

Second-place winner Saab Cars USA turned to Atlanta-based USMotivation for its campaign, which incorporated speedometers and tires into the design pieces, as well as keepsakes, among them a CD designed like a Saab speedometer.

The judging panel for the 2001 SITE Crystal Awards included Andrea Graham, contributing editor for Corporate Meetings & Incentives, as well as incentive planners from SONY, JP Morgan Treasury Service, and others.


Creative Use of an Incentive Program to Solve a Marketing Problem

First Place: Eugene de Villiers, The Extra Mile Co., Ltd., Ellerslie, New Zealand; Client: Compaq Computer NZ Limited, “Compaq Bazaar”

Second Place: William Bryson, MotivAction LLC, Minneapolis, MN (USA); Client: Simmons Co., “Sales to the Series”

Outstanding Single Event

First Place: Harith Wickrema, Harith Productions Ltd., Orleand, Pa. (USA); Client: Metiom, “Inner Circle”

Second Place: William Bryson, MotivAction LLC, Minneapolis (USA); Client: CCA Global Partners, “Carpet One Street Party”

Trip Delivery

First Place: Penny Wing, Incentive Travel Inc., San Diego (USA) & Glen Byrom, Green Route, Harare, Zimbabwe; Client: IBM Enterprise Systems Division, “The Ultimate South African Experience”

Second Place: Charles Imbacher, Worldspan International, Zurich, Switzerland; Client: Die Mobiliar, “Club 2000”

Promotion & Communication

First Place: Mark Jarrell, The Meeting Architects, San Francisco (USA); Client: Zurich Payroll Solutions, “Spectacular By Nature”

Second Place: Michael Hadlow, USMotivation, Norcross, Ga. (USA); Client: Saab Cars USA, “The Genuine Advantage”


Compaq Computer New Zealand and Extra Mile Co.'s innovative reseller program

Participants of the Compaq Bazaar said they loved it. They'd better have — because from day one, the incentive campaign was delivered right to their computer desktops.

Compaq Computer NZ Ltd., New Zealand, was also happy with the campaign. The most successful one it has ever run for resellers, the program helped Compaq finish the year as market leader and grow its sales in nontraditional areas (such as services and support) by 31 percent. That's at a time when participation in competitors' programs was down by 43 percent.

From the get-go, Compaq's incentive house stood true to its name. New Zealand's Extra Mile Co.,, went the extra mile for its client. And its efforts garnered the company first place in the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives' Crystal Awards for “Creative Use of an Incentive Program to Solve a Marketing Problem.”

For Compaq, the “marketing problem” was market leadership, which it wanted to gain. “But Compaq had other goals,” says Keely Hilton, an EMC vision weaver who runs the company's Australian branch, “including keeping the company ‘front of mind’ for all resellers.”

Looking for Something Extra

Compaq's relationship with EMC began several years ago when, unhappy with its incentive provider, the company asked EMC to submit a proposal. It did — and won Compaq's business.

This time out, Compaq wanted an incentive campaign that would engender loyalty while offering recognition and rewarding achievement.

“We understood Compaq's industry and environment,” says Hilton. “We thoroughly researched competitive offerings and other factors that could influence the program's success. We spent time with Compaq, and assured the company that the program and the platform on which it was delivered were innovative, cutting edge, and in keeping with Compaq's overall business strategies.”

A Little “Bazaar”

And so it was that EMC created the “Compaq Bazaar,” administered through its NETUWIN Internet system. The interactive, self-registration system allowed Compaq to develop a comprehensive target audience database and helped cut costs in program design, administration, and communication.

“This program was a complete online solution,” says Hilton, “right from program launch and participant enrollment through reward fulfillment and management reporting.”

Participants entered sales information directly into the system, which translated the sales into program points. Points, which could be used toward incentive rewards and merchandise, were immediately visible in a personal online statement. Participants could redeem points online as well — from a catalog of more than 700 items. A barometer on the Web site depicted how close each participant was to securing one of 10 places on a “trip of a lifetime” to Istanbul, Turkey.

The technology slashed traditional management costs and allowed EMC to redirect money to marketing the program and providing rewards. “All program element were electronic, meaning no double handling or manual input was required,” says Hilton.

Compaq was more than happy with the results, and program participants flooded Compaq and EMC with praise.

Says Hilton: “It was like nothing they had ever seen before.”
Thomas Tennant