Gateway Canyons Resort Receives Top Honors in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards

And the Winner Is…

Nothing speaks more to people than awards.  In the movies, it’s the Oscars; in baseball, it’s the World Series; in swimming, it’s the World Championships and the Olympics; and in travel, it’s Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Award (among others).  I have to admit, even I am a sucker for prestigious accolades.  I am in the travel business after all, and I know firsthand how much impact a destination or a resort’s rankings can effect peoples’ perceptions.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about my experience at Gateway Canyons in Southwestern Colorado.  I have read countless reviews since my visit to the luxury resort in May touting the destination’s unparalleled adventures, Southwestern-style retreat accommodations, and fresh Colorado cuisine, and all I can do is smile because the secret is out.  Gateway Canyons is THE place to visit in Colorado.  This has definitely been a banner year for the resort.

Curiosity piqued?  The evidence is in the results of Condé Nast Traveler’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards where Gateway Canyons recently received top honors in three separate categories.  In the category of “Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World”, Gateway Canyons was ranked #12. In the category of “Top 25 Resorts in the United States”, Gateway Canyons was ranked #3, and in the category of “Best Resorts in Colorado”, the resort was ranked #1.

Congratulations to Gateway Canyons on receiving top honors from Condé Nast Traveler.  In fact, we say congratulations to all of our hotel and destination partners on a successful 2014.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Katharine Heinz

Katharine Heinz has been with JNR for nine years, first as a Desktop Publisher and now as the Planning Business Administrator. When she is not researching the next hot destination or hotel, she can be found at home enjoying her family.

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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.

Travel Tales from a Senior Account Executive

As a Senior Account Executive at JNR Incorporated, my task it to create unforgettable, unique experiences that “WOW” the audience of my clients. Typically I am helping my clients increase customer and advertiser loyalty by treating their most steadfast clientele to exquisitely planned trips in exotic locales. These trips are designed as both a reward for past business and an incentive to remain loyal in the future.

My job takes me to all corners of the world and I am often on the road for weeks at a time operating programs. I had a particularly busy month recently finding myself in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana for a client program and ending with a personal visit to Uganda. This vast excursion left me with amazing ideas and insights for future programs.

No program is ever perfect but the program in South Africa was as close as it gets.  A few small, unavoidable travel issues when the group checked in for their outbound flights, but everything was resolved painlessly. After that, it was smooth sailing all the way!  We had perfect weather in Cape Town for a helicopter tour and visits to Cape Point, the wine country and a variety of dining venues. Everyone noted that they had had a spectacular time.

Sabi Sabi Reserve was, as usual, utterly amazing and we had the best game sightings I have experienced in all of my travels there. We checked off Africa’s Big five game animals (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros) within the first two hours on our game drive and even saw a leopard drag its prey up to tree before consuming it. Gruesome and fascinating – the vehicle was covered in a curtain of awe. Dinner at the Bush Lodge was a divine highlight – a breathtaking setting that conveyed the essence of the program theme, “Capture the Magic.”  We certainly did that night!

Victoria Falls was fantastic. We enjoyed a game cruise in Botswana, swam in the Devil’s Pool at the top of the falls and peered over the precipice, walked with lions and had cocktails and dinner at sunset on a chartered luxury train over Victoria Falls bridge, which spans the Zambezi River and serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The final night was highlighted by spectacular drumming on the deck at sunset in sight of the falls and dinner on the lawn with monkeys and zebras strolling by. Clients left saying this was the best program they had ever experienced and the kudos are still rolling in!

A multitude of US cancellations all over Africa were in place due to the Ebola scare which was actually centered thousands of miles from our program. The Europeans were all chuckling about fear and media coverage present in America and enjoying the lack of crowds. The most amusing part of this was when we crossed back over from Botswana to Zambia after the river game cruise, we were pulled aside and health screened because the US is now considered an “Ebola risk country” with the cases in Dallas and NY! The participants really got a kick out of us being considered a “problem country” from the African perspective.  While we take the health of our participants very seriously, this was a reminder of how situations are presented differently through various worldview perspectives.

After the program was complete, I chose to stay on in Africa and made my way North to Uganda.  What a revelation that was! It is a stunningly beautiful country to say the least.  Entebbe sits on a peninsula surrounded by Lake Victoria (2nd largest lake in the world) and the area is absolutely gorgeous. It is home to the largest United Nations community in Africa and the staging point for most of the African UN missions, both military and humanitarian. It was fascinating to see that the operation and the town is quite diverse and filled with people of all nationalities. Next, I flew up to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the magnificent mountain gorillas. The flight was beautiful. Uganda looks like a cross between Ireland and Bali, Indonesia. The landscape boasted a million shades of green, and every inch was terraced and cultivated for farming. They grow mostly tea, but also coffee, corn, potatoes and many other crops in this region.  The soil is very fertile due to ample rain and it is considered the “grocery store” of East Africa. Ugandans are wonderfully friendly and very proud of their country – they could not have been nicer or more genuinely welcoming.

The gorillas – WOW! There are only 800 of these primates left in the world and they are found nowhere else but this small triangle of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  I stayed at the Gorilla Sanctuary Lodge which is a spectacular “glamping” (glamorous camping) spot. The whole place includes just nine high-end tents and can accommodate 18 people at capacity. This lodge offers incredible views of the mountains and forests and every luxury amenity you could ask for. They even used furry hot water bottles to pre-warm your bed at night – a ritual I may take home with me. When you get back from trekking drenched from rain and caked in mud, they hand you a drink and remove your dirty clothes and boots, then return them spotless, pressed and dry two hours later. This paired with outstanding gourmet food and perfect service in the most incredible setting imaginable; I absolutely loved it!

The actual trek to see the gorilla troops was a very tough hike and I am glad I was ready after weeks of preparation with extra gym workouts. There are a number of different gorilla troops and those who are not as fit can choose to visit a troop that is only an hour hike away. For an extra fee, they even carry disabled people up to the closest troop. We went for the tougher three hour hike each way – and did it twice!

Each troop is habituated for three years by the rangers and trackers before they take people up to view them. Once a troop is familiar with humans, only eight people per day can visit that troop and for a maximum of just one hour. I was so impressed with how everyone involved is EXTREMELY dedicated to keeping the gorillas safe and healthy and keeping the experience exclusive and authentic for those who visit.  A team of six people brings you up the mountain- two trackers that locate the troop, two rangers with AK-47s who guard against wild mountain elephants (they shoot into the air to scare them off if they get too close), a guide and a porter who carries water, food and emergency supplies. The trek was steep, muddy and the last hour was spent hacking, slipping and stumbling our way through the densest rain forest brush. Then, all of a sudden…there they are! The troops range from twelve to nineteen gorillas, and each has a dominant male silverback, plus four to six females, a number of juveniles and a number of babies as well. There simply are no words that adequately describe how magnificent they are. Their DNA is 98.5% human and their behavior is incredibly people-like. You see them eating, playing, grooming, socializing and taking part in a variety of other activities so familiar to us. The silverback is the vigilant, protective dad and the moms are attentive to the babies. Watching the babies wrestle and play with each other and the juveniles was pure magic. Every aching muscle is a distant memory when you are immersed in this rare and exceptional experience. After we left the gorillas, the adrenaline and excitement carried us back down the mountain much faster than the time it took to get there. They say there are those who do the trek on multiple days and those who wish they had. I was immensely glad that I chose to do hikes on multiple days because the two experiences were completely different, yet equally amazing.

I also spent time hiking to waterfalls, visiting local villages and seeing what the “gorilla income” does for the surrounding communities. It is truly inspirational and the village children welcome visitors with the most genuine smiles.

I then went back to Entebbe for a night before flying home, the end to a fabulous program and a special trip I will never forget.

I am always looking forward to future travel programs and am excited to be working on potential future programs in the most exotic of locales.  Next up (I hope!) is Borneo as well as other “off the beaten track” type trips. 2015 and 2016 look to be very good years in the incentive world and there is no better way to bond with clients than to treat them to an unforgettable shared adventure.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kim Hester, Senior Account Executive

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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

JNR Incorporated Named “Top 50 Event Company” by Special Events Magazine

We are extremely honored to announce that JNR Incorporated has been selected as a Special Events Magazine Top 50 Event Company for the 2nd consecutive year!

Our spike in international events and authentic experiences to destinations such as South Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brazil were cited as some of reasons for our inclusion on this exclusive list.

Here’s to hoping for a third consecutive selection next year.

http://specialevents.com/septemberoctober-2014#12

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness? Today, last week or last month? All too often we forget the impact that a random act of kindness can have on the recipient. Instead we get sucked into our own daily struggles and walk through life with our heads down absorbed in our smart phones. Well it is time to stop being on auto pilot and start practicing random acts of kindness.

Last Thursday night I had a front row seat and to witness just this very thing…and it changed my life. I’m serious! Thursday, April 24 at 8:30 PM I witnessed such a powerful act of giving that it brought the entire room to tears.

For every meeting I plan, I travel with a team of talented, freelance Travel Directors that make me (and my clients) look good. We can’t do these programs without their tireless efforts, most of which go unnoticed.  Emily Robinson is one such person and has been an integral part of the Annual Customer Forum for the last five years. In this time she has developed friendships with many of the Forum’s leaders even though she only sees them once a year.

In late February Emily called me to let me know she had been diagnosed with stage 3A colon cancer. She had surgery earlier in the month to remove part of her colon and would start chemotherapy in March. By April she will have finished her third round of chemo, but was unsure how she would feel and may need to cancel off my program. Obviously I was upset to hear her news, but understood. By the end of the call we agreed to wait to see how she was feeling before removing her from the program. Despite telling me this terrible news she was amazingly upbeat and positive (which if you know Emily – this is how she is on a daily basis!). Her prognosis for beating this is very good and she was happy to learn she probably won’t lose her hair through this process.

On April 1st, Emily was traveling through the Las Vegas airport and ran into Mike, one of the Forum’s leaders. They recognized each other immediately and stopped to catch up. She shared with him that she was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and was not sure she would make it to this event this year.  Mike was upset to hear her news and offered to help her understand any insurance questions she might have. She appreciated the gesture but did not take him up on his offer.

Fast forward to last week’s Annual Customer Forum.

Alex Kip is a 26 year old cancer survivor and one of our keynote speakers. During his senior year in college, he was diagnosed with cancer and was told he had a 15-30% chance of survival. Hearing this kind of news would crush most people’s spirit, but not his. He fought the statistics, is now in remission and sharing his story with the world.

The day before his keynote address I was told he wanted 350 blank note cards. It was arrival day with the typical chaos, so finding 350 blank note cards at a hotel was not going to be easy. By chance Emily was asked to handle this project. Emily went to the business center, bought yellow cardstock, had it cut in half, and folded the half sheets again to make note cards. Genius! Thursday morning the yellow note cards were propped up at each place setting across 350 chairs. It was quite a sight. During Alex’s speech he asks each attendee to write a “Kindness Card” – a positive, inspirational note he delivers to hospitals for patients undergoing chemotherapy. By the end of our General Session we collected almost 200 of those yellow cards.

At the break after Alex’s keynote, Mike approached Alex and shared Emily’s story with him. Mike considered Emily part of the family and it would mean a great deal to him if Alex would give her a few of those cards.  And that is when the plan was devised, a mandatory staff dinner!

We never have mandatory staff dinners. Staff typically eats on the fly when they have a few spare moments, rarely getting 3 square meals in a day. We just grab what we can and off we go. But tonight would be different. Some of the staff were in on the secret and used left over paper flower decorations from the night before to make our dinner table more festive. At 8:30 PM all of the staff was in place around the table except Emily. In her typical hyper fashion she was still buzzing around the office. Conveniently the staff left the chair at the head of the table open. Smiling and tapping on my watch, I yelled at Emily stating she needed to sit down, our mandatory dinner was starting. Once she was seated I explained that we were going to have a special guest join us tonight and with that I walked to the door welcoming Alex, Mike and Joe (Mike’s boss) into the room.

Alex approached Emily, told her he heard her story and was impressed with her attitude, strength and outlook. It was when he heard her story that he decided SHE would be the perfect recipient for ALL of the kindness cards, then handed her all 200 of the yellow note cards that she created the day before. Words will never be able to fully describe the energy in the room at that moment. It was the ultimate act of kindness on not only Alex’s part, but Mike’s part as well.

Tear instantly sprung from her eyes while she kept repeating “I don’t deserve these cards, I don’t feel sick!” Through the tears she thanked everyone profusely, telling us all how loved she felt. There was not a dry eye in the room, including the five men. For Emily, to be able to work this program (after canceling off five others) was clearly meant to be. The Universe was practicing its own act of kindness.

It is not every day that we get to participate in such a huge/personal act of kindness, but why should that stop us from trying? Each day we have the opportunity to be kind to one another, you just need to slow down and notice it. That small act of kindness can be a bright spot in the other person’s day.

While traveling home on Saturday, still on the adrenaline rush from Thursday night, I started to pay notice in the airport for random acts of kindness. And they were all around me. While sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight I sneezed. And the man behind me said “Bless You!” He had been involved in a conversation with his girlfriend but took the moment to say the words. Now I realize this is not a huge act of kindness, but he did not have to stop his conversation to do that.

Later that day as the plane landed and everyone was getting up to collect their carryon, the gentleman in the middle seat of my row lifted the arm rest for me to get out of the window seat easier. Again, not a huge act, but was still being mindful of me needing to get out of my seat.  Two rows ahead of me was an older gentleman struggling to get his arm through the strap on his back pack. The young man behind him lifted up the backpack to make it easier for him to put it on.  There are so many ways to perform random (or not so random) acts of kindness.

Over the weekend, still riding the rush of emotions from Thursday night, Emily decided that she would follow Alex’s advice to become a “beacon of light for someone in the dark.” She would bring the cards to her fourth chemo treatment on Wednesday. Her hope was that the patients at Texas Oncology Cedar Park would feel the love and positive energy that these cards possess.

When she arrived for her treatment today, there were five other patients in the room. She shared this story with them and explained that she was meant to share this gift with them as well. She gave each patient a stack of cards to read, and when they were finished with that stack, they passed it around to the next person, and continued until each patient read all 200 cards.

It was wonderful and got the room talking! It sparked conversations between patients that usually receive treatment in silence. From the conversation ideas started to form about how they can take these kindness cards a step further. Possibly decorate boxes to put in the chemo rooms and constantly stock them with #kindness cards for the patients to read.  If they come across one that really speaks to them they can take it! Or the patients can add cards of their own to support their fellow chemo patients. Emily now has a purpose during her treatments and has found a way to give back (or pay it forward). She realizes how blessed she is with such an incredible support system that she looks forward to being a shining light to others.

So I ask you to start practicing random acts of kindness, no matter how big or small. You never know the power or the impact it will have on the other person.

“Be a shining light for someone in the dark.” – Alex Kip

Kindness Cards
Kindness Cards

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Laurel Axelrod – Senior Account Manager, Travel Operations

Laurel updates her personal blog “Resilient and Hopeful” regularly and it can be viewed here.

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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.

Pharmaceutical Sales Incentives: A Case Study

The Pharmaceutical Industry is big business. Companies like Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi have market capitalizations well over $50 billion with steady growth expected. Contrary to what you may think, even groundbreaking prescription drugs do not just sell themselves. The success of these companies rests largely on the performance of their Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives. Let’s learn a bit about who these individuals are and how to inspire them.

The position of Pharmaceutical Sales Representative boasted its way onto the top 100 “Best Jobs in America” list compiled by CNN Money in 2012. Several factors were considered for this ranking including a median pay of roughly $97,000 per year and 16.4% expected job growth over the next ten years. With over 400,000 jobs reported in the field at the time of the study, there is no shortage of opportunity for people wanting to join this industry. The position is very fast-paced and high turnover rates are common. Assertive, persistent and knowledgeable are a few of the most common adjectives used to describe successful Pharmaceutical Sales Reps. The majority of their time is spent on the road traveling to meetings with pharmacists, hospital personnel, doctors and others who have the ability to connect them to potential customers

Engaging a sales team to perform and stay motivated in this high paced atmosphere requires a strategic approach that goes beyond expected compensation. This is where a strong sales incentive program utilizing non-cash incentives comes in to play.

Pharmaceutical Sales Incentive Programs can produce massive gains in terms of incremental sales revenues when implemented and managed properly. In addition to cash commissions and bonuses, effective programs also use non-cash incentives, training opportunities and contests to motivate. Non-cash incentives can include travel prizes, merchandise rewards and recognition awards from management. These incentives are awarded not only for those who win sales contests but also for those who complete training portals to increase their product knowledge.

Participants that frequently receive progress reports and standings updates naturally exhibit higher levels of competition and are more driven to sell. It is also important to make sure that the program rules are clear, fair and easy to understand with effective communication plans to support the initiative.

These Sales Incentive Programs are particularly vital when new drugs are introduced into the market, when existing drug sales are falling or when sales reps need to be reinvigorated due to declining performance.

Situation: Novo Nordisk Uses a Sales Incentive Program to Introduce New Non-Insulin Medication Victoza

Incentive Magazine shared a fascinating case study about Danish health care company Novo Nordisk and their recent sales incentive program that introduced Victoza, a non-insulin medication for adults with Type 2 diabetes. Their goal was to engage more than 2,000 sales reps with this campaign and encourage them to sell Victoza.

An online-based five-day incentive program called “Welcome to Club V” was introduced and themed around an exclusive nightclub incorporating a virtual red carpet and VIP experiences. This virtual “nightclub” made it easy to access training portals, progress reports, contest rules and the award shopping mall. The award shopping mall allowed participants to select prizes of their choosing based on various achievements.

Essentially, participants were awarded with prizes in exchange for the completion of training portals and victories in sales contests.

Results: 100% Participating in Competitions, 95% Taking Daily Quizzes

The program was quite engaging to say the least. An astounding 95% of the sales force took daily quizzes and every participant competed in the individual and team sales competitions. The program rewarded these Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives for doing what they already did, but for doing it better by encouraging continuous growth in their job knowledge.

Jamie Jones, senior director for Novo Nordisk strongly believes that sales reps become tired of selling a product after just six to eight weeks no matter what the product is. Incentives are the only way to keep them engaged in selling.

This “club” took the rather dull experience of learning about and selling medications and turned it into a fun, competitive and exciting way to earn prizes. The representatives received incentives. The company enjoyed the results of more educated employees and increased sales revenues. Everybody was victorious here.

The Keys to the Success of This Program

The rewards were selected to match the objective of the program and target demographic. Choosing interesting rewards for Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives can be difficult, but experienced gift buyers will have the answers at the right price. Large rewards can include exquisitely planned trips to exotic locales and activities that are not commonly open to the public. Smaller awards can include luxury name-brand gifts that resonate with your target audience.

Many touch points were present. Communication, training, measurement and reinforcement were articulately designed. It is essential that participants know the value of offered incentives and how they are able to win them. Keeping the competitive spirit of participants alive with constant reminders is also vital. Email blasts, printed collateral, meetings, online standings websites and even teaser gift items are effective in this area.

If you are looking to create or revamp your pharmaceutical sales incentive program, give us a call at 949.476.2788 or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com. We understand your target demographic and what drives them, the communications necessary to get them to participate, the metrics to demonstrate value to executive management and even ways to increase your corporate social responsibility in the process.

To learn more about the important role that marketing communications play in sales incentive programs, please click here.

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.