Relax, Recharge and Reconnect via new-normal ‘Incentives’
With the announcement that World Travel Market (WTM) will be a virtual event this year, another door closes on the chance for that human-to-human gathering, whilst opening up potential new doors on WTM using virtual/ hybrid event tech moving forward. One of the travel world’s largest trade, business and social gatherings has taken this sensible step for 2020 and could pave the way to a new hybrid format of the future. All positive, however, the landmark exhibition has always been a chance to see and meet the world under one roof, whilst enjoying the flamboyance of its multi-cultural audience in person.
On-stand Incentives to be missed…
WTM provides the space for countries to offer mini-incentives on their stand, with interactive products, on-stand demos (usually pertaining to indigenous cuisine) or the chance to bring a celebrity face to endorse a brand – consciously or unconsciously these ‘incentives’ will be sorely missed. Instead, the virtual format will have us once again staring at our screens.
WTM On-Stand Incentives in 2019 (Image courtesy of Reed Exhibitions)
I therefore believe, the ‘Incentive’ will play a much more prominent role in our new normal and as Leo Platt, Founder of Leopoldmarketing.com & MPI Member suggests will “potentially be the quickest market to bounce back.” Such incentives will be stripped right back to sourcing local and simple products to allow employees to relax, recharge, reconnect and CREATE. In some quarters the NHS have started to ‘prescribe nature’ for certain ailments, so why not use the same concept for employees through incentives.
Encouraging creativity through Incentives
The pandemic has opened up the chance for a new ‘work-from-home’ (WFH) policy in many organisations across the globe. Virtual/ hybrid technologies have shown that many face-to-face meetings can be easily managed from the home office, with potential efficiencies in cost/ productivity across the board. Those are the positives, but personal experiences of back-to-back meetings online are exhausting and as Platt states “with no change of scene between meetings which would normally occur”.
Don’t get me wrong the WFH policy is an important step in the way we drive our work/life balance; The positives seem to outweigh the benefits, but what will need to change alongside our home office cocoons, is the ability for employers to, even partially, address this through activating new normal incentives e.g. hosting the odd meeting in nature or other quirky environments. The benefits could be three-fold; to boost creative thinking, to support the events/ incentive planner industry and most importantly to support the mental and physical well-being of employees.
Craig McGee, Founder & CEO of Panoptic Events
Panoptic Event’s CEO agrees
In February, I attended CONVENE 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania, I met Craig McGee, Founder & CEO of Panoptic Events during the first networking evening. Little could we have envisaged how the world would change in proceeding months. However, based on being located in the same hotel we created a daily routine of attending the conference and then returning to the hotel and meeting in the Spa (Sauna/ Jacuzzi). It allowed clarity of thought without distraction to discuss and share ideas, to think about synergies and potential collaborations for when we returned.
The uniquely relaxed environment enhanced our focus our thought-process, thus dubbing this particular spa area as our ‘new office’. Fast forward 7-months and with a radical overhaul of working practises with the WFH revolution here to stay, that experience has stuck with us. The increasing need to be creative and innovative is paramount for businesses to survive, as is greater understanding of the health and well-being of employees.
McGee agrees to the prognosis of a natural evolution towards a new breed of ‘Incentives’ born-out from our new working environments. He cites inspiration from companies such as BrewDog “who show innovation through holding management meetings in various places including deep sea diving trips, whilst I start the year in the Sheraton Spa, Edinburgh, where I create action plans and my company vision for the year.”
Panoptic is already exploring the opportunities to create simple yet inspiring incentives right on their doorstep for companies wishing to invest in their best asset, their employees. “In Scotland there is so much potential to create simple and inspiring incentives, utilising mountains, castles, spas, Loch’s and forests and all relatively close to major cities”.
Craig McGee, Founder & CEO of Panoptic Events
Time to rethink and re-evaluate
If the NHS is taking on board research regarding ‘Green Prescriptions’ delivering physiological and psychological benefits for patients and in some quarters already ‘Prescribing nature’ through outdoor conservation projects, then should employees be thinking the same way and creating similar incentive programmes for employee’s health, well-being and creativity? I say YES!
No doubt the virtual WTM will develop and the show’s fundamental aim of connecting travel businesses and destinations will work virtually. But let us hope that exhibitors find clever ways to promote their cultural assets this year, maybe utilising the incentive planner to activate something else in or around London using money saved on stand construction.
Platt affirms that there is still much appetite for the money-can’t-buy experiential ‘Incentive’ to reward achievers. But right now, I think there is scope and need for employers to ‘Prescribe Incentives’ to employees and reap the long-term rewards.
Further reading – Travel, Truth and Lies by Martin Lindstrom
Behavioural psychologist/best-selling author Martin Lindstrom has launched a new COVID-safe travel tips e-book, Martin is also founder and chairman of Lindstrom Company (and one of TIME Magazine’s World's 100 Most Influential People) and has joined up with friend and CEO of www.intertek.com, André Lacroix for this new venture.
Downloadable for free on the following link: https://www.intertek.com/Protek/travel-unmasked-ebook/.
by Ramy James Salameh
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