Perfect Holiday Gifts for Employees, Customers and Channel Members

The passing of Labor Day signals the symbolic end of the summer to many and now we look forward to what lies ahead as September is underway. Fall colors, seasonal Starbucks drinks and Halloween are all fun things that highlight this time of the year, but something that requires a great deal of preparation is also rapidly approaching in the coming months: the December holidays!

Purchasing the perfect gift for every person on your personal list of family members and friends is difficult enough, but figuring out what to give your employees, customers and channel members is a completely different situation. If you operate a relatively small company with a short list of clients, then you may have the appropriate amount of time and knowledge to purchase something tailored to their preferences, which is the ideal option. If you are tasked with gifting for a large corporation, then personalized gifts are virtually impossible.

Thankfully there is a gift available that is easy to distribute to a large audience, cost-effective and allows you to thank your audiences by offering them the freedom of choice!

Gift cards are that gift!

Corporate gift cards come in several different forms. The typical Best Buy or Starbucks card you may think of when you hear the words “gift card” is merely one type.

 “Open loop” cards can be used virtually anywhere major credit cards are accepted, allowing the recipient the freedom to purchase practically anything that their heart desires. MasterCard® is a common issuer of open loop gift cards. This category accounts for 56% to 62% of the market.

“Closed loop” gift cards are issued by a specific retailer, such as Best Buy or Starbucks. Closed loop cards fall into the following categories (ranked from most to least popular): food & beverage, department stores, exclusive online retailers, music and movies, fuel, electronics, sporting goods, apparel, travel, jewelry and accessories.

Both types of gift cards carry low fees and are easy to distribute. Open loop cards can be personalized and branded with your company logo and both will make virtually any person happy! We all love the freedom to choose right?

The gift card industry is not just relevant to businesses during the holiday season though. Corporate incentive and loyalty programs are valuable tools to utilize year-round and can center on distributing rewards and incentives for greatness in sales, performance, safety, loyalty and other achievements. Holiday gift cards are only the beginning.

Below is a profile of gift card intentions among companies who frequently use them as some form of incentive, according to Incentive Magazine:

For more information on how to implement a gift card program to thank employees and customers, optimize channel sales, increase safety or reinforce and reward just about any other positive behavior, please give us a call at 949.476.2788, send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com, view our website or check out the relevant links below.

Suggested Gift & Rebate Card Readings:

A Look at Prepaid Cards in Incentive, Rewards, and Recognition Programs

Prepaid Debit Cards Are Effective Incentive and Reward Options

Auto Consumers Love Rebate Cards

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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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.

South African Spotlight: Once-In-A-Lifetime Moments on Robben Island

To create a successful incentive program for a client, you need to not only check off bucket list locations and desired experiences but also create moments that participants are unlikely to be able to create on their own. South Africa is the perfect destination to achieve all of these goals.

When you think of South Africa, images of safaris, wine tours and Cape Town are brought to mind. These items are usually on the typical tour guide for a trip to South Africa and as amazing as they are, will most likely be part of an individual’s vacation itinerary with or without a team of expert Travel Planners. We require more than that, insisting that participants experience more than the norm for it to be a JNR incentive trip.

South Africa is a land of stunning experiences and deservingly has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are included both for cultural reasons and natural beauty.

Robben Island was added to this list in 1999. This island’s remoteness was utilized for various reasons between the 17th century and the 20th century including as a hospital for patients that were deemed to need isolation, a military base and a prison. It was in the late 20th century that the island was used as a maximum security prison in the Apartheid period for political prisoners including Nelson Mandela.

Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island for twenty years. For many of those somber years he shared a cell with a fellow political prisoner and freedom fighter named Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada.

Kathrada left school at the age of 17 to become a full-time Transvaal Passive Resistance Council representative and fought to gain greater political representation for Indians. He spent a month in a Durban Jail for his participation in these campaigns for civil disobedience.

Kathrada studied at the University of Witwatersrand and continued his political and equality work. In the 1950s he was accused in the Treason Trial but eventually found not guilty. Despite repeated detentions and severe house arrest measures, Kathrada continued his anti-apartheid activities and was arrested in 1963 and found guilty of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means. He was sentenced to life in prison.

During his time incarcerated in Robben Island Maximum Security Prison and sharing a cell with Mandela, Kathrada completed a Bachelor’s degree in History/Criminology and Bibliography as well as Honours degrees in History and African Politics through the University of South Africa.

In 1990, after President Frederik Willem effectively negotiated to end Apartheid, Kathrada was released and elected to serve in parliament representing the African National Congress (ANC).

JNR was able to coordinate a meeting with this amazing man and program participants, giving them the opportunity to sit and talk in the very prison cell on Robben Island where he spent years of imprisonment with Nelson Mandela. Through his words, these Participants experienced the heroic perseverance that eventually led to a democratic South Africa. Kathrada shared stories of survival, hope and inspiration with those lucky enough to have won a spot on this once-in-a-lifetime, more than bucket-list-worthy, incentive trip.

The criterion that qualifies this island for World Heritage recognition include that it symbolizes “the triumph of the human spirit, of freedom and of democracy over oppression.” This deeply moving experience gave participants on this trip the chance to understand the meaning of these words and they still share stories from that unbelievable experience that few others share in the world.

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 courtesy of Donna Rohmer

Motivating Millennials: Traditional Engagement Is Not The Answer

Watch out Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, the Millennials are on their way! The demographics of business are changing, and with it, the environment in which employees can best harness their talents. Gone are the days where communication is handwritten and hierarchy is strictly structured, and with this change comes new strategies that employers must understand to capitalize on the value of the increasingly younger workforce.

The rigidity of various firms established decades ago leaves executives struggling to ‘engage’ the youth moving into their careers without looking upon them as entitled or self-centered. However, in recent studies, this is where the problem may lie – engagement is not the standard protocol, as it is so widely believed, to keep younger employees stimulated. Employers are gradually using more resources to further engage Millennials, when this is actually unnecessary.  Younger workers for the most part have actively sought out the position within their company.  This speaks to this generation’s goal oriented nature, proving that they are highly determined and productive when given autonomy and a clear purpose.

Highlighted in a recent article from Forbes, one of the largest catalysts to the progressive alterations in business demographics is the difference in education between each generation. The Millennials, or Gen Y have grown up in a world with technological advances at every step of their life.  In return, they are the most tech savvy generation and as a result, can better exploit these skills to be more efficient in learning and producing results than their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts. The influx of networking and social media have created a unique dynamic of the Millennials, they work well both independently or in social or group task setting, to the benefit of any organization in the 21st century.

So, how does a company successfully incorporate and promote Gen Y into its workforce? According to Talented Heads, here are some simple methods that have the potential to encourage the Millennials to positively harness their energy for their respective jobs:

  • Millennials are deeply drawn to work that promises self-direction and an individual’s own creative control.
  • Millennials thrive under leaders who are accessible and provide a comprehensible narrative about the organization’s direction.
  • Millennials desire a voice in the company to share their opinions and to challenge themselves to become better problem solvers.
  • Millennials provide their best results when they are able to directly interact with their work in hands on experiences.
  • Millennials most powerful incentive is a flexible work-life balance, where basic needs are met and time both inside and outside of work is enjoyable.

Even though the times are changing at a rapid rate, companies should look at this as an excellent opportunity rather than an unavoidable conundrum. The Millennials are here to stay, so it is of the utmost importance to make their transition into any organization a smooth one. The generation of the future will undoubtedly provide great benefits if a company is willing to support the newest additions to the real world to keep retention high and employees motivated.

For more information on how JNR can help you to engage your Millennial employees contact jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com

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.

 

Group Travel is the Number One Motivating Tool

Motivational travel—including group travel, individual travel and family travel—may not be a household term to the average person, but its power has been well established in the business world for over a decade. The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) defines it as “…a powerful business tool for helping organizations achieve key business objectives.” At the root of it all, target audiences (employees, dealers and customers) are inspired to perform at a higher level or remain loyal in exchange for a travel incentive award.

Successful motivational travel programs will maximize Return on Investment (ROI) and Value on Investment (VOI) for the company and Return on Experience (ROE) for the participant.

ROI measurements are based on financial gains for the company. It can be measured by subtracting the expenses of the investment from measurable gains from the investment and dividing again by the overall cost.  Like any investment, the company expects to see a sizeable increase in revenues for a relatively small cost when implementing a motivational travel program. Investing dollars in travel programs will be a wise choice for a company if this decision results in large gains in incremental performance and loyalty by the employee, dealer or customer.

Since tangible returns are not always apparent, VOI is another measurement that considers return benefits associated with motivation travel programs. Although VOI is difficult to define, like ROI, it can be extremely valuable to a company. Improvements in relationships, communication, loyalty and innovation are all good examples of metrics used to define VOI.

ROE on the other hand is all about intangible benefits for the recipient of the travel award. The participant must determine that the experience they will earn is worth the additional effort that is required to qualify and compete for the ultimate prize. For the trip of a lifetime, participants often go to great lengths becoming very competitive amongst their colleagues. Delivering experiences that are memorable yet cost-effective is the challenge for the travel planner.

A recent study conducted by SITE and IMEX published in The Meetings Magazines in May 2014 surveyed participants from more than 16 countries and found that group travel leads the list of utilized motivation tools. The top motivators were listed in terms of the percentage of respondents who used them in their programs.

  1. Group Travel – 62%
  2. Recognition – 44%
  3. Training – 40%
  4. Individual Travel – 31%
  5. Family Travel – 22%

Other trends of note in the motivational travel industry:

  • Supplier relationships are crucial – 83% said that past experiences and relationships with suppliers strongly affected their provider selection.
  • Top management and purchasing departments are involved in buying decision – 59% said that one single person did not make incentive travel decisions but decision makers were typically in upper-management. Procurement departments influence 52% of buying decisions.
  • Price and lead time are key factors in decisions – 65% said price was the main reason for a bid being lost to a competitor and 48% thought that lead time affected submission quality.
  • Trade shows are great places to find service providers – 81% of providers and 79% of users said that they attend trade shows to find new suppliers or meet with existing ones.

The value of incentive travel awards has been proven time and time again. According to SITE 88.6% of those who earned travel rewards agree that it made them feel appreciated, 72.4% said their loyalty increased towards their employer, 77% of winners said incentive travel made them feel like a more integral part of the company and 53% said connecting with senior management was a positive and motivational experience.

If you are looking to implement a group travel program or examine other motivation tools for your company, please give us a call at 949.476.2788 or send me an email at khewkin@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

______________________________________________________________

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.

The Travel Industry from the Eyes of an Intern

What is one of the only industries that allow employees to create once in a lifetime memories for a living in some of the most unforgettable places on Earth? While this question may stump some, the answer is the incentive travel industry – a fast-paced yet rewarding career for those organized individuals who love to plan meetings, events and trips of all kinds.

In the past few years, any student who is fresh out of college will hear how tough the job market is and the dismal chances of procuring a fun and lively career. Well stop that negative thinking right there, because according to the New York Times, as of April 2013, about 8 percent, or 7,000 of the total of 88,000 jobs added by employers that year were in the travel industry. These numbers are extremely promising for determined youths who would like to experience this hectic, yet alluring path. Devoting time and energy into this industry has the potential to pay great dividends for the future, as corporations are feeling a greater need to compete on a global scale which has called for greater investment into business travel. This directly translates into a more optimistic outlook for motivated students and graduates alike as they are preparing to enter “the real world” as the Federal Bureau of Labor states that the travel industry is one of the top 10 largest employers of middle-class wage earners.

As an intern, there are a few invaluable lessons that can be learned especially in such a dynamic and ever changing industry:

  • Understand that help is always available when needed and that it is important to ask the appropriate questions, but a sense of autonomy and responsibility through diving in and forging your own path is of equal importance.
  • Patience is key and do not have an expectation of entitlement or instant gratification.
  • Organization is a must. Also, never fail to overlook even the smallest details – those can make all the difference to a client.
  • Flexibility in helping others and taking initiative without having to be asked shows willingness to be a team player and ultimately promotes a more efficient workplace.
  • Creativity in solving problems and clearly communicating opinions and proper solutions shows confidence and a sense of ownership for decision making.

As an intern, it is always a frightening prospect to start a new job, especially one in which very few 20 something year olds have any experience at all. While beginning a career can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking from the start, the incentive travel industry offers a wide array of options for any ambitious adolescent. Starting a brand new journey is exhilarating, yet intimidating, but I hope that through these suggestions and testimonials from a real life intern, it inspires others to accept the challenge and never let the idea of immense change hinder anyone’s abilities and potential. Contact JNR Incorporated if you would like to get a greater insight into this unique industry.

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.