By Melinda Ligos
This month, our experts help readers find the right promotional travel items for their incentive trips.
Australia is the single-hottest incentive destination for salespeople right now, according to MeetingsNet, an online resource for corporate meeting and incentive planners. Italy is the second most popular and Hawaii and the Caribbean are close behind.
Selecting the destination for an incentive trip is the easy part: Coming up with the right promotional travel items, logoed apparel, and other giveaways well, that takes a little more doing. This month, four anxious readers wrote us asking for creative promotional products ideas for their upcoming incentive events. As anyone who’s planned such a shindig knows, incentive winners are a highly demanding and often high-paid crew. So the traditional items won’t work. Here, our experts relay what will.
Q: We’re planning a beach Olympics event for our annual sales incentive trip to Florida and would like to give out prizes to the winning teams. Last year we gave out T-shirts. Any ideas for cool beachy gifts we can offer’
A: First things first: Even if you give incentive winners something inexpensive ‘ ‘it shouldn’t look cheap,’ says Leo Kats, president of Instant Imprints Franchising, an advertising specialty distributor firm based in San Diego. Remember, the people you’re giving them to have worked hard to earn this trip. So if you’re giving away a T-shirt, don’t pick one that is so cheap that you can see through it. If you’re giving away a water bottle, pay an extra dollar to get one that will make it through a dishwashing.
One idea that is relatively inexpensive but won’t look so: a fashionable visor. ‘Pick one made of quality material and have it embroidered, not only with the company logo but the logo of the event,’ says Kats.
Another hot idea: Bundle a few items together and stick them into a sports bag. ‘Choose a cool looking beach bag and put a logoed towel and visor inside,’ he suggests. Not only are these items inexpensive, but they can be purchased in relatively small quantities, ‘even as low as a 12-piece minimum,’ Kats says.
Q: We’re organizing our first incentive trip to be held later this year in St. Thomas. What type of logoed apparel can we give the trip-goers to wear during the trip?
A: Two words: tropical shirts. ‘There’s nothing like a fun-printed Hawaiian-type shirt to make people feel like they’re really on vacation,’ says Ron Muzechuk, owner of Proforma CNR Marketing, an advertising specialty distributor based in Dayton, Ohio. Muzechuk is also a big fan of bundling items together for incentive winners. His suggestion: Include the shirt in a beach bag along with everything else a beach-goer might need, including lip balm, logoed water bottles and sunscreen. ‘People will just be able to grab that bag and they’re set for a day on the beach,’ he says.
Another item that is usually well-received are flip flops that have a company’s logo (or the event’s logo) cut into them, so that as wearers flop around the beach, the logo leaves an impression in the sand. ‘It’s pretty cool for everyone to see their company’s name everywhere,’ Muzechuk says. ‘And it’s a neat branding opportunity for the organization.’
Lastly, if employees will be playing golf (and what incentive trip these days doesn’t have a golf outing), consider purchasing one of the latest moisture-wicking polo shirts. Embroider the event’s logo on one of the sleeves for a classy look.
Q: I’m looking for some pillow gifts for each night of a three-night incentive trip to Hawaii. We want these items to be of value to attendees, something they’ll take home and use repeatedly. Any ideas?
A: ‘People love the robes at hotels,’ says Kats, ‘so why not give them their own cushy one with the event’s logo on it They’ll definitely bring that home with them.’ Don’t pick any old robe, however. (Your winners likely already have a white terry cloth one at home.) Go with something in a unique print or fabric.
The second night of the event, Kats suggests, I would probably give an electronic gift or some sort of desk accessory. One idea: A desk caddy to put pens into that includes a LCD display with the time and date on it. Speaking of the date, the dates of the trip along with the event logo should be imprinted on the item, Kats says. People like the date on souvenirs from incentive trips,’ he says. ‘You don’t want them to bring something home and then forget where they got it. Where’s the motivation in that’’
On the last night of the trip, Kats recommends providing a high-quality, logoed duffel bag that attendees can stuff everything into. Now they’ve got another great gift and they don’t have to worry how they’re going to cart the other stuff home,’ he says.
Q: I’m starting a ‘President’s Club’ program for my top reps, and would like to reward those who make it each year with a special gift. What would you recommend’
A: Assuming the winners are highly-compensated salespeople (as they so often are), Muzechuk says high-end gadgets are the way to go. His surefire favorite: A digital photo frame, which incentive winners can use to store photos of all of the memories of their recent trip. Most 5-by-7 frames start at about $150 and will store 20 or more pictures. ‘If people win again next year, you can upgrade them with more memory to add additional photos,’ Muzechuk says.
Another cool option is the latest MP3 player, Muzechuck says. ‘You could package this with other products, too,’ he suggests, such as a refillable music download card. The more the rep sells in the future, the more money you add onto the card.
Reprinted with permission of Successful Promotions, copyright 2007
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