Incentive Travel Spotlight: The Allure of a Pura Vida Incentive

What is it about the glamour that seems to be built into the words ‘Costa Rica’?  This country nestled at the base of Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, elicits feelings of mystery and exclusivity to most travellers on an Incentive Travel escape.  For the most part, these well-travelled individuals have explored the likes of Mexico, Hawaii and islands within the Caribbean, but making the journey just a bit further south is unchartered territory.  The draw of a Pura Vida lifestyle is instantly appealing and motivating making it a perfect destination choice for companies choosing an Incentive Travel location.

Aside from a year-round tropical climate, Costa Rica shares little else with her Central American neighbors.  One of the most stable and prosperous economies in Latin America makes for a very safe excursion.  This coupled with the reassurance of Resort brands like Four Seasons, Marriott and Westin, travellers are met with a sense of well-being and comfort that is not always guaranteed when traveling throughout the region.

What other mysteries does this country hold?  To start, 25% of the land is dedicated to conservation and protected National Parks.  Costa Rica is a land of extreme natural beauty.  With a priority placed on the commitment to preservation, visitors will forever be in awe of the lush green forests, pristine waterfalls and a plethora of unique animals like sloths, monkeys and over 50 species of hummingbirds.  Our travel programs always include local flowers in guest rooms, activities that bring our participants a first hand experience with Costa Rica’s natural surroundings and even fresh fish from the local waters caught and cooked in time for dinner.

When looking for things to do zip lining is synonymous with the Costa Rican landscape and a must do on all Incentive Travel programs.  The canopy of the jungle becomes your playground as you fly from platform to platform on tours ranging from 50 to 800 meters in length.  Tarzan swings, waterfall hikes and superman cables are just a few of the options you’ll be faced with as you take on this extraordinary adventure.  These aerial tours test your bravery as you soar through the skies getting a true birds eye perspective of this beautiful country.

One of greatest features of Costa Rica is its variety. With only a short amount of time spent driving across a country smaller than Lake Michigan visitors can experience volcanoes, rainforest, beaches, national parks, cloud forests and hot springs.  Over 800 miles of coastline give tourists plenty of beach space for a fun in the sun getaway and with water temperatures in the 80’s, there is no excuse for visitors not to dive in.  We tend to stay on the Caribbean side of the country but the beauty of this excursion is that you can see it all in a very short amount of time.

With Pura Vida at its core, it is no surprise that Costa Rica ranks at the top of the Happy Planet Index.  Taking into consideration factors such as life expectancy, overall well-being and a highly favorable ecological footprint score, Costa Rica has some of the happiest people on the planet.  The pride for the country is so evident that it can even be heard each morning at 7am when every radio station plays Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera (Noble homeland, your beautiful flag)- the national anthem for Ticos and Ticas to sing along with as they start their day.

 

If you would like more information on how your sales organization can motivate with “the Pure Life” experience please contact JNR.  We would love to set up a travel incentive program custom tailored to your organization’s needs.  Give us a call at 800.343.4546, or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

 

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Barbara Williamson

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Hold it Right There!” By Steve Corey is licensed by CC by 2.0

Cuban Spotlight: Cuba – One of the Most Intriguing Countries in the Caribbean

From tantalizing Cuban sandwiches to refreshing mojitos, this relaxed island is the largest in the Caribbean and offers a plethora of delicacies and history to explore. It has a fascinating colonial foundation while still maintaining a vibrant tropical vibe with its luxurious beaches and laid back island atmosphere. On the rise for international acclaim, Cuba is working to gain a place on the list of top travel destinations in both the Caribbean and the world.

Below is a list of the top 10 destinations complied with the help of My Travel Guide for tourists and corporate travelers alike in this beautiful Caribbean country:

  1. Havana: No trip to Cuba would be complete without a stop in the capital city of Havana. The splendor of this city comes from the charm of its colonial core and small town atmosphere, despite having 2 million people within its population. Although it is a growing metropolis, Havana is a city cautious about preserving its 1950’s heritage where retro cars and regal mansions still abound.
  2. Santiago de Cuba: The second largest city on the island, Santiago de Cuba is the site where the victory of the Cuban Revolution was proclaimed, making this town full of rich heritage one of the great historical and cultural hubs on the island.
  3. Veradero: Veradero is arguably the most popular destination for first time travelers to the island. It is often referred to as “Cuba’s Cancun”, where lavish resorts dot the bleached white sand and residents and visitors can enjoy an array of aqua activities.
  4. Holguin: Holguin is one of the few cities in Cuba that offers the best of both worlds in order to experience every dimension of Cuba’s unique geography. From Holguin, it is only a brief commute to either the beautiful beaches of Guardalavaca or to the dense backcountry to visit the La Mensura or Humboldt National Parks.
  5. Cienfuegos: There is no location like Cienfuegos in the Caribbean, as the entire town is designated a UNESCO Heritage Site.  Full of grand architecture and must see landmarks from the 18th and 19th centuries, Cienfuegos has been beautifully preserved for contemporary visitors to enjoy.
  6. Santa Clara: The city of Santa Clara is similar to Santiago de Cuba as it holds a vast amount of history to discover while on the island. The last and arguably most important battle in the Cuban Revolution (named for the city itself) took place within this site in 1958. Today, Santa Clara holds the mausoleum of Che Guevara, and a museum dedicated to his involvement in the Cuban Revolution.
  7. Cayo Coco: Cayo Coco is truly a vacationer’s dream. This secluded, small cay is located directly off the coast of the mainland and boasts the most lavish and exclusive resorts in Cuba. The most stunning and peaceful beaches in this nation are also found in Cayo Coco, making it an ideal locale for an incentive destination.
  8. Trinidad: Trinidad sits on the western coast of Cuba, and the entire town itself is a living museum. Tourists can enjoy a stroll down a cobblestone avenida to admire the colorful pastel houses or take a ride on the Baldwin Locomotive, a 20th century steam engine that takes passengers to the Valley of Sugar Mills.
  9. Pico Turquino: Pico Turquino is Cuba’s highest mountain, and the opportunity to trek to this peak should not be missed. It is a strenuous route, but the nature and history along its trails makes it well worth it.  Indulge in bird watching and let your imagination flourish as you discover abandoned wartime jungle headquarters.
  10. Cienaga de Zapata: The Zapata swamp is one of the most remarkable and untouched regions on the island. It is also at the top of the Caribbean’s largest wetlands, and is home to the endangered Cuban crocodile. Nature buffs will relish the chance to see some of the purest and unspoiled wilderness in Cuba.

While it once was a hotbed of revolution, Cuba is rapidly becoming a traveler’s dream.  From ardent conservation of historical landmarks and neighborhoods to its pristine white sand beaches and ocean resorts along the coast, Cuba is the epitome of a diamond in the rough. The reputation of this island oasis is drastically improving since the discord of the 20th century, becoming a land of immense opportunity for the incentive travel industry for many years to come.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “cienfuegos yacht club” by Mikel Ortega is licensed under CC by 2.0

JNR INCORPORATED CELEBRATES THIRTY FIVE YEARS OF SUCCESS Global Events & Incentives

It seems like only yesterday JNR was a small, five-person enterprise owned and operated out of Las Vegas by us, Jim and LuAnn Jalet.  We were veterans of the hotel and hospitality industry who had worked together and shared a passion for quality and service. When we realized a void existed between hotels/resorts and busy clients in the managing of large-scale events, we conceived of offering a one-stop solution for incentive, event and entertainment management. That’s how it all began…

In 1980, the hours were long, the clients were few, and there was no money for additional staff.  Now, some thirty-five years later, the hours are longer, the client roster includes many of the nation’s leading corporations, and an incredible staff of 80+ keeps things moving at an energetic pace.  It has been a challenging, demanding and wonderful journey!  We are very proud of the growth we’ve achieved and recognize that our success has come from the relationships we have established with our employees, clients and suppliers.

What began with a core idea thirty-five years ago has developed into a thriving enterprise through hard work, integrity, values, careful nurturing and prudent management.  When we started JNR, we created a company where people would enjoy coming to work. One of the many reasons for the organization’s success is our belief in treating employees much like an extended family.  This philosophy has proven very effective, with the average tenure of current JNR employees being 10-15 years; several individuals have been with JNR for more than 20 years. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by extremely dedicated, knowledgeable, experienced and passionate people.  Each person on our JNR team brings something unique and valuable to our process and they exhibit a level of care and pride about their work that is refreshing, respected and appreciated. We know the strength of our organization lies in our team and we want them to know how important they are to us.  We have been able to evolve and thrive over the years through a true collaborative effort.

We value the successful partnerships and genuine lasting relationships we’ve developed throughout the years, and are fortunate to enjoy friendships that reach far beyond the business realm.

We have gained the respect of business partners around the world and our client’s say that, even in today’s highly competitive world, JNR stands alone as the one company that never compromises on quality or service, and delivers on every promise. We have always focused on our client’s needs and take the initiative to make things better by delivering exceptional programs and events, at a superb value, providing everyone with extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime memories.  We are proud of our reputation.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported and believed in us.  If you work with JNR, we thank you.  If JNR is new to you, please take a look at our site and let us know how we can help you: www.jnrcorp.com

You have our assurance that your decision to work with JNR will be appreciated and one you will be pleased with.  You have our promise.

 

Thank you,

Jim & LuAnn Jalet

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

JNR Spotlight: To Stair-Step or Not to Stair-Step

Tiered or “Stair-Step” programs are a common incentive structure, awarding individuals or businesses with increased per unit payouts as they reach certain thresholds of sales production.  Makes sense, right?  Sell more, get more – the ultimate in pay for performance.  For example, sell 1 to 10 widgets, earn $5 per unit.  Selling 11 to 20 widgets and earn $10 per unit.  For selling 21 to 30 widgets, earn $15 for each widget sold.  Other elements can also be incorporated into the program, including fast-start bonuses, making structures more complex.

The stakes get high when the program is retroactive, meaning the $5 that you get from selling widgets 1 through 10 becomes $15 per unit from widget one – when you reach the target bonus  threshold.  Wow, a lot of money is on the table at the end of the program as participants strive to hit that top tier.  Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

These programs can be quite controversial however, especially in industries such as automotive where Stair-Step programs can actually create an unequal playing field between large and small dealers – if the program structure is too general for all dealers in the network.  The larger volume dealers may use their forecasted Stair-Step dollars to arbitrarily offer discounts to customers.  Large dealers always set the market price.  With Stair-Step programs, they can control and manipulate market pricing with little to no price competition from the smaller dealers.  Large dealers increase volume; smaller dealers struggle to be profitable.  This can also cause an eroded customer experience.

Smaller dealers are forced to make a decision: do they take a gamble and match market pricing of the larger dealers, betting that they will reach their Stair-Step objective and come out of the program profitable.  That can be a big risk for dealers in a small market who have limited potential.  This is why the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has taken such a strong position against Stair-Step incentives as they can negatively affect a large portion of their membership base.

So what is a manufacturer to do?  They want to drive volume, especially in cases with excess inventory, need to move certain models or need to drive market share.  They must take care of their top dealers and if mid to small dealers can reach set thresholds, they win too.  However, in too many instances smaller dealers can take a hit directly to their bottom line.

So manufacturers should and do care.  They are taking action with different incentive structures that include:

–          Periodic Bonus – disrupts the month-end discount push, but forward thinking large dealers will eventually adjust their annual strategies to a monthly projection in order to set market price.

–          Groupings – set specific attainable tiers, by dealer or groupings of similar sized dealers, based on historical volume.  Gives dealers of all sizes more of a comfort level in reaching their objectives.  However, can still put discounting power in the hands of the larger dealers.

–          Non-Cash Incentives – take away the cash element and give dealers trips, experiences, merchandise, rewards to disburse to their teams, etc.  This is quite effective in engaging dealers to motivate their teams to exhibit the right behaviors everyday to drive sales and achieve quota.  Some dealers can, however, use cash-based discounting to drive sales in contest periods in order to achieve the award objectives.

While popularity and implementation of Stair-Step programs ebbs and flows with the economy, they will be utilized by sponsoring companies in some form or another for the foreseeable future.  With advances in program structure, analytics and past experience, companies will be tasked with designing programs that will` generate their desired effect.  That means recognizing clout of your top performers and maximizing potential of the middle group through strategic design and engagement.

As an incentive marketing company we support our clients’ incentive initiatives with a variety of tools to engage, motivate and reward their target audience(s) for achieving and exceeding their goals and objectives.  Fundamentally, for programs to be effective and successful, the following incentive principles should be adhered to:

–          Is the program attainable?

–          Can the program be communicated clearly and is it fair?

–          Are expectations clear and is progress toward achievement communicated adequately?

 

Following these principles virtually assures a successful program with maximum participation.  It does take work and collaboration with various business teams to understand the dynamics and nuances of their business, so together they can develop programs aimed at driving behaviors that generate optimal results.

For more information about JNR and how we help companies design and execute successful incentive programs, feel free to give us a call at 800.343.4546.  That’s what we’re here for and what we do every day.

 

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Mark Houska

Director, Business Development

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Mexican Travel Spotlight: Mexican Sugar Skull Recipe

JNR stays close to home this month, with a journey through the heritage and culture of Mexico. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, falls on the first and second of November and honors those who have passed. During these days, it is said that the spirits of the dead visit their families and loved ones. It is common for Mexican households to prepare altars with offerings for the deceased and to visit gravesites with gifts and decorations.

Rituals include making the deceased’s favorite food and serving it as an Ofrenda (Offering). These items may include tamales, Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread) and sugar skulls.

Sugar was first introduced to Mexico by the Italian missionaries in the 17th century and often used for decorations in churches as it was a cheaper alternative to the expensive European imports. Sugar skulls were incorporated in the Dia de los Meurtos rituals in the 18th century and have since been used to represent the souls of the departed. It is common for the skulls to bear the name of the deceased across the forehead and they are characterized by big happy smiles and colorful icing.

Today we are sharing a recipe for this vibrant tradition below.

Sugar Skull Recipe 

Total Time:     35 min

Prep:     10 min

Cook:    25 min (additional time for icing to dry)

Yield:   2

Level:    Moderate

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4” plastic skull mold

 

Icing Ingredients (additional required for decorating)

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Desired food color

 

Directions

Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine the sugar and egg white in a bowl. Blend mixture together with your fingers.

Pack sugar firmly into the front and the back sections of the plastic skull mold. Using a spoon create a shell that is ½” thick in the mold. Place baking pan behind the mold and invert the mold onto the pan. Tap the mold gently to release the sugar skull as you lift the mold off. If the mixture crumbles add more egg whites. Repeat the process to make the second sugar skull.

Bake the sugar skulls for 25 minutes or until the surface feels hard and solid when lightly touched. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Using an electric beater on high, whip the egg white and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar.

Join the front and the back sections of the sugar skull using the icing sugar as glue. Let stand for 1 hour or until the icing is firm.

Repeat directions above to make additional icing sugar to decorate sugar skulls. Add the desired color and amount of food die. Using a pastry bag with a plain tip, pipe icing onto the sugar skulls in desired decoration. Let stand for 1 hour or until icing is firm.

To store, wrap airtight.

If you would like to learn about how JNR can organize a magical incentive trip to Mexico, where participants can taste the delights of traditional Mexican food first hand, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

 

Other recipes to check out:

Indian Spotlight: Indian Vegetable Biryani Recipe

German Spotlight: German Honey Cookies

South African Spotlight: Bobotie Recipe

United Kingdom Spotlight: Yorkshire Parkin Recipe

 

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By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Sugar Skulls” by Alex Alonso is licensed under CC By 2.0