Cultural Immersion: The New Normal for Incentives

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Connecting with destinations on personal and authentic levels is key to program success.

Today’s successful incentive programs dig deep into local experiences. We recently caught up with Claire Lester, design strategist, Maritz, to talk about the importance of culturally immersive group events and activities.

Prevue: Please comment on the trend of incentive activities having strong cultural components. 

Lester: We are seeing a demand for more cultural immersion, particularly in our international incentives. More and more, attendees are looking to travel to provide transformational experiences. They want to connect with a destination on a more personal and authentic level.

Prevue: How can incorporating culturally immersive group experiences into incentive programs fuel meeting success & attendee ROI? 

Lester: Anytime an organization aligns an experience to their brand’s purpose and values, it strengthens the connection between the attendee/employee and the organization. Yes, incentives are about rewarding and recognizing, but they are also about motivating and retaining top performers. How an incentive is designed, both in rule structure and in reward, says a lot about the behaviors and values that the organization prioritizes. Some of the most important values employees are looking for in an organization are connection, authenticity, innovation and growth, both personal and professional. All those values are strongly aligned with culturally rich experiences.

Prevue: Do you look for a strong sense of place in the site selection process?

Lester: What we’ve seen is increased interest in destinations with strong brands; brands that have a clear point of view on who they are. As people continue to buy their values, I think we’ll see increased requests for selecting destinations, hotels and venues that have a strong brand triad of purpose, passion and place.

Prevue: Do you think CVB’s can help identify culturally immersive and creative group activities?

Lester: CVBs are critical in communicating the identity of the destination. CVBs serve as cultural ambassadors of the city, aligning their partners to the destination’s brand, values and personality.

Check out Prevue’s latest issue for examples of culturally rich group experiences in destinations worldwide.

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