A triple scoop at Hershey Park
Tim Bruins, a specialist in travel programs for
insurance and financial companies, uses a trick to improve
performance for one of his longtime clients. When planning an
incentive trip, he sends the brightly colored promotional materials
to the employees’ homes, so their kids will see the potential for a
vacation and start pestering immediately.
Bruins, senior account executive for St. Louis-based Maritz
Travel, sees a trend in incentive trips for the whole family. As
the demands placed on workers multiply, time spent with loved ones
is at a premium. Insurance companies specifically are at the
forefront of this development, and they are perhaps the most
family-friendly among companies that offer incentives, argues Caren
Bigelow, manager of travel planning for Atlanta-based U.S.
“Making the trip a reward for the whole family is a general
philosophy for sales incentives, but insurance companies have been
a little more warm and fuzzy toward families than most,” she
What follows is a discussion of issues to consider, along with
some tips to remember, when planning incentive trips with family
When structuring the invitation, keep the following in mind.
Age range. For trips to family oriented
destinations such as theme parks, all ages should be welcome. For
journeys to more exotic locales, limit guests to age 10 and up,
suggests Tamara Nored, CITE, vice president for sales and marketing
at the Houston-based Griffin Meetings and Incentives. In general,
babies should be welcome only if a spouse can take care of the
Family emphasis. The company should decide
whether the program will be billed as a family trip or as a trip
where children are welcome. The former would include extensive
children’s programming and might even pay for a limited number of
kids. The latter would simply permit their presence, with an
additional charge if children attend meal functions.
This doesn’t have to be decided when sending out the
promotional collateral, says Caren Bigelow at U.S. Motivation.
Final decisions on the scope of the children’s program can wait
until registration forms are sent out.
Covering costs. A contest can be tiered, so
that higher achievers can bring children at no charge, and those on
a lower tier must pay for their children to attend, says Nored.
However, Bigelow warns it can get messy if the rules vary for
different levels of winners. Best to keep different tiers on
separate trips if attendance rules will be different.
The cost of inviting children can be divided into three
components: airfare, accommodations and programming (which includes
food). Based on budget, the company can choose which aspects of the
children’s trip to pay for, and how many children to cover. Chances
are, regardless of such details, parents will appreciate the
opportunity to take their children. Here’s some greater detail on
those three components of the cost:
Airfare. While a few companies buy flights for
an unlimited number of children, most will either cover only two
kids or ask parents to pick up this cost. Some don’t even pay for
the spouse’s or significant other’s flight.
Accommodations. Generally, planners block
exactly enough (or just a few extra) rooms so that each family gets
one room. This decreases the chance of overbooking. If a family
wants additional connecting rooms, they can be booked on a
case-by-case basis, to be paid for by the participant. If a hotel
doesn’t have extra rooms available, planners might need to
accommodate the whole family at a nearby property, which would
likely diminish the attendee’s experience.
Note that very high-end resorts often don’t have connecting
rooms. Of course, that isn’t as much a consideration if you pick an
all-suite property or put everyone in villas, says Lisa Boston,
account manager for Carlson Marketing Group, based in
Programming. Some companies can afford to pay
for the food, activities and local transportation for more than two
children. If not, then charge the family a fee to cover these costs
for each participating child.