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10February 2011 Conference+Meetings WorldINCENTIVE TRAVELto market, motivate their people, retainand grow business and measure results. We know that the solutions we offermust engage target audiences andinspire them to raise performance; liftsales if that's the aim; have a role inboosting customer satisfaction, and growloyalty or add to the bottom line.Measurement is fundamental. Without ityou can't plan properly for future activity.And that's dangerous.and expensive.The core solution to ensuring that theincentive event process is right beginswith the response to a brief. Potentialclients may (but actually may not) knowof the huge amount of work, researchand detail that goes into the preparationof a proposal. And the work really ishuge: reatively, logistically, financiallyand all stops in-between. There are aplethora of elements to consider, all ofequal importance including aviation,hotels, partner programmes and riskassessment. The pitching process doesn't need tobe fraught, provided the supplier agencyknows the potential client's culture, thestrategy into which the event fits, budgetparameters, demographics, thought-through objectives and the nature ofbespoke possibilities.The majority of clients want somethingthat is specific for a particular group;something that recognises age, likes anddislikes, purpose, experience - what willrefresh, what won't. Also key is anagency's understanding of event orprogramme legacy. Clients don't wanttheir people to have forgotten anexperience before they get home. Mission criticalUnderstanding brand is also missioncritical, both at the pitch stage andbeyond. If I'm going to manage a brandin some way, then I want to understandit. It's one of a client's most treasuredassets. Communicating brand onmessage every time is what organisationswant and internal audiences are just asimportant as external ones when itcomes to understanding a brand and itsmeaning. All brands require internalcommunication, otherwise employees willhave no real interest and the excitementthat an organisation trusts that externalaudiences feel just withers on the vineinternally. Changing people's thinking,refreshing attitudes, heightening brandexposure, promoting loyalty and buildinglong-term brand relationships can beimportant parts of an incentiveprogramme. Being creative in thisprocess is as important as the creativityof the event itself.The creative element of any proposal isone that Grass Roots takes seriously.Creativity necessitates the fun, craft,sense, sensibility and magic that a goodagency can bring. We exist to help ourclients grow their business in some way.It's one of the reasons why we've turnedattention to detail into a bit of a fetishand measurement is essential. That'swhy we look at business messages andclient ambition first. That's why wecollectively define what success will looklike; it's why we prepare scrupulousoptions and plan a programme that we know will entice,delight and work. Talk is cheap, butfailed incentive events are expensive.Successful incentive events require avast number of considerations. Forexample, discussions no longer onlyapply to hotel or property contractnegotiations and cost controlconsiderations. Air travel security isclearly much tighter than ever and clientswant, as much as possible, to ensurethat their event travel is hassle-free. Currency fluctuations can impactevents booked a long way out and fuelsurcharges can hike prices. Additionallythere's the growing need to consider thetechnology available to use pre-eventand during it (Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, iPads and the like). Corporate responsibility is again animportant ingredient. And clearlyattendee demographics matter. Someclients may want two events back-to-back at the same destination. Similarly,they may want to book events in longercycles. Then there is date flexibility,multi-year contract options. Clients mayalso want to consider some aspect ofLondon 2012 and the obviousopportunities therein. Delivery is a multi-faceted thing now. And most clients will want all the facets as well as the thing. That's good. Are incentive programmes fun?Absolutely. Innovative? Yes. Creative?Certainly. Challenging? Well, toparaphrase JFK, whose brilliantspeechwriter Ted Sorrenson died recently,we like incentive travel, "not because it iseasy, but because it is hard". Kennedysaid that, of course, in the context of'landing a man on the Moon andreturning him safely to the Earth', so itisn't really that appropriate in the contextof incentive programmes. Yet.Grass Roots' client incentive programme in Peru 2010'Knowing about theaudience, the modusoperandi, theexpectations, the realreasons for the reward or motivation are super-important'