Hi, I’m Carolyn Hoffman, Director of Operations and Owner of Performance Enhancement Incentives. We are a boutique meeting and incentive company, specializing in unique and inspirational travel reward programs. The question I’m addressing is, “What makes or breaks a successful incentive program?”

For me, it’s the details. Isn’t that where the devil lives? When planning a travel incentive program if there are thousands of details involved you could get 999 of them correct, but get one wrong and it can ruin everything. Since people aren’t perfect and we all make mistakes, it’s critical to have processes in place to make sure everything is taken care of and nothing is overlooked or left to chance. Through the years we have developed systems to put everything in writing, confirm, and then re-confirm all of the details.

Here are examples of some important details when dealing with suppliers:

Hotel contracts. When negotiating a hotel contract, make sure your contract isn’t one sided in favor of the hotel. Examples might be ensuring that the force majeure paragraph is mutual and that insurance coverage requirements are mutual. Make sure there is language in the contract that protects the privacy of the sponsoring company and its participants.

Ensure that the room allocations are appropriate; run of house shouldn’t mean 10 ocean-view rooms and 90 parking lot rooms. Spell out all of your services that you expect to receive and identify what kind of backup will be provided for each item that you will be billed for.

Prior to delivery of the program, finalize all the details with every supplier and get them to sign off on all services to be delivered. You don’t want any surprises when you arrive at the destination. Make sure that your written descriptions include your arrival processes, your meeting room setups, menus, etc., even the colors of tablecloths and napkins that will be provided. Nothing should be left to chance.

Lastly, we confirm all these details on-site with the appropriate staff for each vendor, at least 1 or 2 days prior to the arrival of your group. You may find that the food and beverage manager couldn’t get lobster so he’s planning to serve shrimp instead, but that’s not what you ordered and since shrimp costs a lot less than lobster in most cases, this change won’t meet the client’s expectations and it should result in a reduction in the price, if an equal value substitution can’t be made.

Getting the details right will go a long way to ensure the success of your incentive program. For more information on the details and other ideas on how to plan a successful incentive program, visit our website at www.peincentives.com. Thanks.