Planning high-end incentives

By Eda Özden on 04/04/2017

More than just tailoring an exclusive programme, strong soft skills are needed to weather any unexpected situations.

Here are some elements to make an incentive programme stand out:

  • Be sure to put long-term relationships in front of short-term profits

Our clients had booked a sea-front restaurant with gorgeous views for dinner, unexpectedly a cruise ship docked right in front after a problem with the port. We had zero faults in this yet we organised a boat cruise pre-dinner so the incentive winners would indeed enjoy the vistas – from our profits. Suffice to say the client has been giving us business & spreading the word on MEP/Pacific World ever since.

  • Think hard about how you can creatively distinguish yourself as a company

We have a lot of Australian & New Zealand groups come to visit Gallipoli, but since the region isn’t too developed and story very sombre - it’s very hard to create the incentive experience. After thorough research, we found the sole Australian living on the peninsula and got him to join us for dinner one evening. Guests loved hearing about the region and the local's thoughts from this gentleman. We also got in touch with the major wine growers in the region to taste the wines they make from the grapes they grow in the region. That soil is very special to us all.

  • Things can always go wrong, make sure you have a solution at hand before addressing it with the client

Our roof fell in at a restaurant due to heavy snow once. Our Project Director Bilge found a nearby restaurant of similar style, spoke with the kitchen to make sure they could serve the same menu and agreed on the same menu price. Only then she addressed the issue with the client saying “something bad happened, but…” Years later we saw the buyer elsewhere, she remembered and said, “Since then I never not used a DMC, because when things go awry – it’s the local hangs that will sort you out.”

  • Make sure you offer local connections, ones that incentive winners cannot build on their own

We have built a relationship with a local art historian/intellectual who owns the most gorgeous Ottoman House, which he has renovated & filled with antiques himself. But for a very high-end incentive for a Fortune 10 company, just taking them there wasn’t enough! Instead, we had him host it, welcome guests at the entrance, talk about the house & culture in Turkey. Afterwards, he hosted the guests himself at the dining room table.

Eda Özden is the Director of Business Development at MEP Destination Business Solutions, one of Turkey's leading DMCs specialising in incentives, meetings and conferences. Currently based in Istanbul, Özden has lived, studied and worked in four continents, and concurrently serves on the Boards of SITE Global, SITE Turkey and World of DMCs. In her free time, she’ll either be sailing in the Aegean or be attempting to get her cat and dog to become friends, albeit unsuccessfully.

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