Corporate Incentive Travel: What’s wrong with this picture?

This post is by Anne Thornley-Brown, President, Executive Oasis International, specialists in incentive travel, sales rallies and sales incentive trips.

Why fly your team halfway across the world just to lie on the beach and get drunk at the bar? You can do that at home. Transform your sales incentive trips into a rich and memorable experience by providing a glimpse into the local history and culture of your incentive travel destinations.

Photo by Executive Oasis International

Question: Where are you? (Hint: This is not a trick question.)

Day 1: The members of your team arrive in the evening from various countries. They are immediately whisked to a 5 star beach resort. You have a brief orientation to set the stage for your incentive. Some people head for the beach. Others head over to the bar. You meet for dinner. The menu consists of western cuisine. After dinner, some head over to the resort’s discotheque. Others return to the bar and eventually head back to their rooms drunk. Some stragglers arrive just in time to go to bed.
Day 2: Some people spend more time on the beach. Others play golf, go shopping or opt for spa treatments. That night, you have a lavish awards banquet with a gourmet western menu.
Day 3: Early the next morning, people head for the airport and fly home.
Answer: You could be just about anywhere

So, What was the point?
I have often wondered what is the point in blowing ones budget to fly executives and sales professionals halfway across the world and give them little or no exposure to the local people, culture, history, or business practices. The company could have created the same experience, at a fraction of a cost, by staying at a lakeside or beach resort close to home. In fact, in these tough economic times if that is all a company wants to achieve with a sales incentive trip, staying closer to home may be the best option. You’ll help boost the local economy and give shareholders and company owners a higher return on investment with the money you save.

Sales Incentive Trips: A Better Way

If you really want to get more mileage out of foreign incentive trip consider these possibilities. A trip to a foreign destination is an ideal opportunity to expose your team to the global marketplace and broaden their horizons. With effective planning and a few adjustments, you’ll help your team and organization to:
– Develop a better sense of the foreign markets you serve.
– Enhance your public image by giving back to the countries from which you are generating revenue.
– Forge closer ties with foreign suppliers through visits to their locations
– Improve communication and cross-functional teamwork by touring one of your company’s overseas offices.
– Stay “ahead of the curve” and pick up ideas for new products or services that you can introduce to your market back home.

Long before they were introduced to North America, I first saw USB drives and giant screens for video street advertising in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The first Internet café ever visited was in Singapore.
An innovative organization or savvy entrepreneur can get the jump on the competition by adding to their line up product lines and services that they discover at an overseas destination.

Building A Better Sales Incentive Trip

For your next sales incentive trip, consider arriving early in the morning and leaving late at night. This will give your team more time to explore without significantly increasing your budget. On the first day, invite someone from your local office to provide an overview of business practices. Build a city tour into your itinerary.

A visit to the facilities of local suppliers or a tour regional office can easily be included in your tour. On day 2, incorporate at least 1 experience that gives your team a glimpse of the local history and culture. Divide your group into teams and give them the challenge of visiting local malls, souqs, markets, or bazaars and identifying products and services that you are not currently offering.

For your next incentive trip, consider a stay of at least 4 nights. If you must stick a 3 night format, re-work your itinerary to give your group a taste of the local culture:

Day 1: Early morning arrival, group check-in, luggage transfer, breakfast briefing, city tour (including supplier or regional office tour), late lunch, free time, afternoon tea and orientation that includes presentations from local suppliers or regional office, free time, themed dinner or dinner cruise with local cuisine
Day 2: Full day or half day team excursion that includes recreation and an experience of the local culture. (We’ll give you some ideas in our next incentive travel feature). Evening awards banquet with local theme, entertainment, and cuisine.
Day 3: Free time, shopping and choice of activities (golf, horse riding, spa treatments, helicopter tour, sky diving, etc.). Early to late evening departures.
There will be ample time for lying on the beach and golf. For once, the conversation on the flight home may be more meaningful than who got drunk and who went skinny dipping in the hot tub.

Social Media Connections
Twellow can help you “cut through the clutter” and find connections and ideas on Twitter to help you build a better sales incentive trip . Here is where you can access Twellow’s incentive travel category .

2nd part of the post here

Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of, he is an international speaker and author of The Good Event Registration Guide and Event App Bible.
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