Merchandise vs. Travel: Match Your Incentive Awards to Your Audience

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merchandise vs. travel, meetings
For your VIP dealers and those with the biggest influence on your business, travel incentives are the way to go.

To get results, target your incentive awards (merchandise, cards, or travel) to your audience.

Different types of incentive awards work best for different audiences and goals, according to a new downloadable e-book from Incentive Solutions.

Merchandise Points

The benefit of merchandise (electronics, home goods, sports and camping gear, tools, etc.) chosen from an online rewards catalog is the power of choice: Qualifiers select the rewards that motivate them the most. Merchandise rewards have something that cash doesn’t have—tangible trophy value. That tangibility makes the reward not just a reward, but an experience, a vivid memory and something they can show off.

When you’re running a long-term dealer incentive program, participants accumulate online points, i.e. a currency specific to the program, over time and purchase merchandise with them. Merchandise also works as a reward for middle majority sellers, not just your small percentage of top sellers. According to Selling Power, a 5 percent gain in the middle 60 percent of your sales performers can deliver 91 percent more sales than a 5 percent shift in your top 20 percent. And because online rewards programs offer a wide range of rewards to redeem, your average and low performers can still earn “low hanging fruit” rewards to boost their motivation.

Card Rewards

Card rewards are as straightforward as you can get and offer plenty of choice—and there’s no accumulation period. And when you have an international participant base, you can send virtual Visa® cards to your participants via email, which include an e-code that acts the same as a credit or debit card number. Participants can plug the number into any online store checkout. This gives them the ability to shop within their country or region, bypassing the inconveniences of international shipping.

Incentive Travel

For your VIP dealers and those with the biggest influence on your business, travel incentives require a larger investment of time and money than other incentive rewards options, but it’s an investment guaranteed to pay off. Not only is the trip itself a monumental event, the hype before the departure will heighten excitement. The memories and stories you’ll share with your dealers afterward also forge stronger relationships.


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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.