Welcome, Eventurers, to the final part of planning an incentive trip!
The first part of the trip is getting everyone together. If you are going straight to a UK venue that could be reasonably straight forward. If you’re travelling beyond these shores, that’ll involve meeting at an airport or the Eurostar terminal. So, although carried out pre-departure, it’s vital that the first thing you need to think about is getting everyone prepared…
1. The Gathering
Everyone should have received joining instructions. These are the basics of where and when to meet and who to look out for. But included within these instructions should be reminders about passports (you’d be surprised!), taking their EHIC card if going to Europe, travel insurance (if not part of the prize) and a driving licence, even if they won’t be driving. With ever increasing numbers of illegal immigrants entering Europe, it’s not uncommon for visitors to be randomly stopped by authorities to check for ID (and you don’t want to be taking your passport on a night out!)
Included in the joining instructions should be an indication of appropriate clothing. It’s all too easy to assume that because you’re going to a warm place that you don’t need warm clothing for the evening, or if you’re going on a boat. Equally, boat shoes are inappropriate for Oslo in winter…
2. The Host with the Most?
If you are hosting a group, how involved in the trip should you be? If they are work colleagues and you know them, then you’ll probably be very involved. If you don’t know them and you’re really there more as a guide then that is a harder call. Our view is that we’re not there to be Club 18-30 Reps, leading the charge and in everyone’s faces; nor are we to be the serious teacher on the school trip, lurking in the shadows and equally, we’re not going to become servants for three days! Working out the level to which you should integrate into the group can be tricky but is usually led by the group. Never forget though, that as the responsible adult, you need to keep your wits about you for troubleshooting and remain very aware of any potential issues either caused by the group or that could possibly effect the group.
3. What to do?
It sounds obvious but try and arrange activities that are relevant to, or even better, unique to the area, perhaps even once in a lifetime activities… snowmobiling in Iceland, surfing down sand dunes in the Dubai desert, sea swimming with dolphins. Activities that winners wouldn’t usually spend their own money on or get away with spending the family money on! Even so, sometimes you just can’t predict how activities will be received. On a trip to New York, we took a group out in helicopters along the Hudson, around Liberty, and over the south side of Manhattan. Not cheap. But for the group, the most enjoyable memory they had of the whole trip was ice skating in Central Park (which cost $19) – because it snowed!
4. Group dynamics
Sometimes groups know each other sometimes just a few do but many don’t. Even if they don’t all know each other, experience has taught us to try and keep the group together as much as possible outside of scheduled activities. So, leisure time before dinner is fine but rather than having no plan, pre-booking space in a few bars gives the group the opportunity to mix, drink, relax without having to look for suitable bars, finding the space for a group of their size etc. If some want to wander for a bit, they’ll always have somewhere to regroup.
5. The Extra Touches
People will always remember the bigger activities they take part in on a trip but never underestimate the power of those little extra touches. At the beginning of the trip they can help set the tone and remind people that they are regarded as special: the welcome drinks on arrival, the in-room gift, perhaps special signage.
You’ll probably have to move people around from A to B at some point but it doesn’t have to be a coach, it could be a boat, SuperJeep, tuk-tuk, helicopter… how about drinks en route?
You could provide access to places that the public simply cannot get to. For a client group we took to Las Vegas, we sought out and got access to Hugh Heffner’s private club! For another group we arranged (after months of negotiations) a tour of the Taittinger estate, chaperoned by a family member!
Here’s a final top tip – always check passport details for birthdays. We’ve had quite a few on our trips and there is always a little surprise planned for them…
Until next time Eventurers!