Cresta column – Incentive travel for corporate rewards

By Norman Moyo

INCENTIVE travel is a simple concept involving working hard, reaching a goal and winning a trip. Forward looking and progressive companies today believe in the motivational power of incentives

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While cash traditionally has always been considered the ultimate motivator, it has been known to set a dangerous precedent in an organisation. Cash is best used for compensatory purposes such as bonuses.


The concept of incentive travel involves a company setting predetermined goals and targets for a particular year. On the achievement of the set target, employees are allowed to enjoy a holiday of a lifetime with their families and/or work colleagues. Travelling as a group has the advantage of creating a bond within an organisation and can also be used as a platform to communicate a company’s destiny or vision so that everyone in the organisation reads from the same book. But more importantly, incentive travel has a much higher perceived value than cash.


An incentive concept begins with a deliberate commitment to achieving set targets at organisational level and setting a clear reward structurefor high performance.


Consider the following example. You have a stretching target of achieving $10 billion in profit by the end of year 2004. You are fully aware that such a target can be achieved if the organisational cylinders are firing properly. As the leader of a team, your task is to motivate and reward your team for achieving the set target. You can engage an incentive company to put together an incentive package for your team on the achievement of the set predetermined targets.


An incentive company will make an effort to first analyse what the key motivators for your organisations are and how they can motivate your team to achieve the set target. The incentive house will communicate the company’s policy on incentives to employees and highlight the planned incentive trip on the achievement of the targets. Occasionally, the incentive house will give monthly or by-monthly bulletins on the company’s progress towards the achievement of the set target. This way, the employees are occasionally reminded about the incentive targets.


An incentive package involves a trip lasting between four days/five nights including dozens of events from golf tournaments and themed road rallies, award and traditional ceremonies, cultural events and black tie galas. A promotional travel company, such as Greenroute in Zimbabwe, identifies an organisation and offers it literally thousands of dollars in vacations for only a few hundred dollars. These incentive companies have an inherent ability to acquire the best deals in the industry often for next to nothing. The planners normally have a great deal of tricks up their sleeves to make the incentive groups leave with a suitcase full of memories.


Of late, the growing trend has been the inclusion of the entire family during these trips. A complete children’s programme can be incorporated in an incentive trip. The hospitality industry draws a lot of benefits from such an incentive group. Local, regional and international companies are potential incentive customers. This therefore brings in the much needed volume driven business and foreign currency generating potential.


Volume business has huge downstream benefits to tourism players in particular. It gives the industry the much-needed leverage to show case the hospitality product. If the customer is excited by the quality of the product and service offered, they will travel again as a full paying customer. It’s a win-win situation. The customer gets to build, motivate and reward their employees for achieving results and the hospitality industry gets the much-needed access to the corporate business market.


Incentive destinations range from local, regional and even international elaborate trips. The most popular local destinations are Victoria Falls, Kariba, Great Zimbabwe, the Nyanga/Bvumba areas and Matopos. Regionally, the choice of destinations include our own popular Chobe Mowana Safari Lodge, Sun City, Capetown, Durban and Mozambican beaches. Internationally the choices can range from the Las Vegas to Disney World.


The tourism industry players in particular should disengage from their fierce competitive rivalry gear and engage in a productive win/win attitude if they are to develop and grow an incentive market. I strongly believe the industry should adopt a deliberate strategy called competition. Such a strategy enables the industry to offer the best deals .


An incentive market requires a cooperative approach at industry level to enable incentive companies to market it locally and regionally. If Victoria Falls properties are to entice the incentive groups all other ancillary service providers such as car rentals, tour operators, Shearwater Services,

Mowana Safari Lodge and the others need to offer good promotional deals to make the incentive trip attractive.


The challenge is upon the tourism industry to educate the local market about this concept and the benefits that will accrue to businesses whose ultimate goal is to grow shareholder value and a healthy return on investment.


-Norman Moyo is Cresta Hospitality’s group sales and marketing manager. E-mail your comments to marketing@cresta.co.zw