Customer loyalty and company loyalty go hand-in-hand. Meeting incentives and incentive travel have expanded over the years so that those loyalties remain strong. Corporate downsizing and lack of funds have made offering incentives a challenge. However, several companies continue to offer incentives because they recognize the importance of employee and client dedication. Incentives have been known to counter failures such as poor work performance, unengaged employees and high turnover rates.
Midwest Meetings interviewed Karen Zilinek, Director of the Meetings and Incentive Travel division of Peak Performance Services, Inc and Melissa Van Dyke, President of the Incentive Research Foundation who offered key insights to the incentives industry today.
Midwest Meetings: What are the biggest benefits of meeting and travel incentives?
Karen Zilinek: Studies have shown that travel incentives have a lasting effect on employees compared to cash bonuses that are typically used for paying personal bills. Our client feedback suggests that travel incentive opportunities are viewed as further validation of an employee’s effort and to be supported through the design of travel is greatly appreciated. We conduct an evaluation after each program specifically asking about the benefits of a program and emphatically hear back that understanding economic times are really tough right now, they would be fine with a trip being scaled back to keep it affordable for the company rather than have it cancelled altogether. The motivation spoke for itself.The biggest benefit for group travel incentives is the opportunity to bring employees together in a fun, exciting environment, share business experiences with not only peers but also with management. Management presence speaks volumes about the culture of the organization.
Every meeting or event has two sides - the meeting planner and the supplier. At the end of the day, both want to pull off a successful event that will ultimately please the client and attendees. With budgetary concerns arising on both sides, both meeting planners and suppliers are looking to cut costs while maintaining event quality. Midwest Meetings® explored the breadth of the unique relationship between suppliers and planners, delving into the deals and incentives being offered by suppliers and the wants and needs presented by planners in our rebounding economy.
By Jeff Higley
PHOENIX, Arizona—Flexibility is more important than ever at hotels as operators continue to wait for an economic recovery to reach the lodging industry.
When discussing strategies to help hotel companies rise above tough times, panelists at The Lodging Conference said there are plenty of ways to at least level the playing field during this recession. The common denominator to all of those ways is to make sure you are open-minded to changing even the most fundamental of operating practices.
Squeezing every penny out of each dollar spent by a company is necessary and typical in today’s economi climate. Businesses have slashed spending in nearly every department; however, recently business travel has been deemed completely unnecessary by many companies. Cost savings from reduced business travel is enticing, but reducing spending in this sector is a gamble. Taking into consideration long-term economic beneﬁ ts instead of short-term savings promises, one can see the dramatic inﬂ uence that business travel has on economic prosperity within a company.
For the ﬁrst time, the return on investment (ROI) of business travel has been measured successfully. A ground-breaking study by Oxford Economics USA and the US Travel Association establishes the congruent relationship between travel expenditures and proﬁts.
Bordering states Michigan and Ohio, which are both facing trying economic times, have set on different paths concerning their approach to travel and tourism funding. While Michigan invests a record $30.6 million in tourism, Ohio has passed a biennium state budget, which cuts tourism significantly. The original Ohio state budget included a tourism cut of 90 percent but shortly thereafter received a one-year supplement of $4.7 million to set the total tourism budget at $5.1 million. Here, tourism officials from Michigan and Ohio comment on tourism funding.
Bonnie Wallsh, CMP, CMM, chief strategist of Bonnie Wallsh Associates, LLC, is well-known throughout the meetings industry for her presentations on cost-cutting. Here are just a few of the many tips Wallsh suggests.
1. Work with one audiovisual company as a preferred supplier.
2. Contact local schools for entertainment in exchange for a donation.
3. Contact entertainers who are in town for other shows or functions.
After the glow fades from a well-planned meeting, the real work of documenting both its successes and challenges begins. This activity can all be captured in a comprehensive “post-event report” (PER). The PER not only documents the value of any meeting, but also provides a history for the implementation of future similar events. In short, it’s the perfect tool to ensure your group doesn’t “reinvent the wheel.”
|Who wants to read a PER? Certainly an organization’s planning team will want to use it to evaluate their own performance and that of the facility where the event was held. Part of the report gathers information from team members to scrutinize what went right and what went wrong about the meeting’s pre-planning and onsite work, as well as the overall basic plan.
We have all had to live with shrinking or shrunken budgets. The question is how can we manage our budgets while protecting the things that are most important to our meetings and events. How do we defend what we need? What criteria might we use to guide us? Overall, how can we be strategic about our budget decisions?
The Process of Strategic Budgeting
Strategic budgeting is a top-down approach, starting with the outcomes the organization wants to achieve and allocating resources in proportion to priorities. How difficult can budgeting be, strategic or otherwise? The process, as written out, is fairly straightforward.