As we head into the upcoming new year (yikes! 2013 already!), this is a time to consult our crystal ball to forecast what may be in store for the meetings, incentives and special events industries, with the hope of predicting a bright and prosperous year ahead. After coming out of an economic slump and concluding a fiercely competitive election, corporations are looking forward to better times ahead, which will hopefully translate to better employee attitudes, greater employee motivation, stronger employee performance, and higher employee retention levels. One of the best ways to foster this positive upswing within your corporation is through a corporate meeting or event; or a corporate incentive program. In a nutshell, a corporate meeting or event can bring participants together to a central location to share company goals and vision; to build enthusiasm and to foster esprit de corps. A corporate incentive program can motivate employees to reach for greater goals, with attainable rewards, such as an incentive travel program or a Prepaid MasterCard® reward program.
If you are considering a corporate meeting or incentive travel program, but are not quite sure what your next steps would be, let me assist you by looking into my crystal ball and predicting three important and rising trends for 2013.
Prediction Number One: The first thing I see is that meetings and incentive travel programs will be selecting more international and exotic destinations to reward their top achievers. Whether that means designing a reward trip to Aruba, Tahiti or South Africa depends on your group profile, program objectives and available budget. My advice: Feel comfortable to “opening up your wings” and fly further this year to motivate your participants to strive for ambitious goals. Employees have been holding back on frivolous vacation spending, but they are tired of having to settle for “stay-cations” (vacations near their home). What could excite and motivate an employee more than an exotic, off-shore location for their incentive travel reward or corporate meeting. Three exotic and exciting destinations that I see trending for 2013 and beyond are, (1) Rio de Janeiro (hosting the World Cup in 2014 and Summer Olympics in 2016), (2) New Zealand (which will regain interest with the upcoming launch of The Hobbit movies that were filmed there, new upscale hotels opening soon, as well as all of the amazing Experiential Travel options that are available in this beautiful country and (3) the incredible destination of South Africa.
Prediction Number Two: Technology and Social Media will continue to evolve and play large roles in meetings, as well as in travel incentive programs. Destination Hotels & Resorts recently came out with their “State of Meetings” Survey (http://www.destinationmeetings.com/whitepaper2012) and reported that “…half of meeting planners cited social media as an integral part of the planning process…” and they also “check TripAdvisory and online reviews before deciding on a hotel or resort.” In addition, “More than 36% noted an increase in technology integration with meetings compared to that of a year ago.” JNR Incorporated is definitely ahead of this trend, as we are on the forefront of utilizing personalized mobile apps for both meetings and incentive programs; we are increasing business and client relationships through an increased Facebook presence, and utilizing social media engagement through creative contests. We also employ strategic e-mail marketing campaigns that we carry through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Prediction Number Three: Experiential travel that is good for the globe IS the future! Corporate meeting attendees are no longer comfortable sitting in a bland ballroom, staring at a screen while being talked at. Attendees want to interact with each other and with their environment, while experiencing something special that they can reflect on for years to come. They want to do this while “giving back”, that is by not depleting nature’s resources (aka by “going green”) and/or by giving back to the local host community through corporate social responsibility. Once again, JNR is on the cutting edge of this “experiential giving-back” trend, offering such rewarding experiences as allowing meeting attendees to build boxes of pet supplies for pets who will be placed as companions for US veterans through a local “Pets for Vets” program. JNR clients have also built playgrounds in Hawaii, built skateboards for underprivileged children, and helped to improve schools in Mexico. When you start to think about corporate social responsibility as a motivator and as a reward in itself, the possibilities are endless.
I only see great things ahead in my crystal ball! 2013 is going to be the perfect year to move forward with your corporate meeting or incentive strategy. You can feel comfortable and confident getting the wheels turning to create customized programs that align with your company objectives. Need a little help getting started? Feel free to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org for some thought-starters!
Director of Planning, JNR Incorporated