This week is a big week for me professionally. It's Speed Week 2017 which means I am hosting a large number of VIP customers at the Daytona 500. My entire team has been manic for the last two weeks going over every detail and ensuring our guests will have the perfect weekend. Here are my five things I always do during incentive trips to make my life easier.
1. Make a Binder
Like most of us, I have a meticulously organized inbox which works well 90% of the time. But when you're on-site, you want access to everything at a moment's notice. For each major event, I create a binder. In it, there's copies of every contract, confirmation numbers and travel info, and even a dossier on each guest that includes his/her phone number (you'll need it, trust me), special dietary needs, etc. Take the time to make a binder and your life will be made much easier on-site.
2. Over-Communicate with Attendees
Typically, I leave the communication with our customers up to their sales reps. However, leading into these kind of events, I've found you can never send too much information. While, personally, I'd be fine with just knowing when and where to show up, most people on these trips wants to know every detail and want to be reminded constantly.
3. Network, Network, Network
Many years of hosting incentive trips has led me to realize that attendees get a huge value out of networking with each other. Whether they're forming a genuine friendship, getting business tips or creating new partnerships, meeting other guests is a large part of these trips. Do whatever you can to help them. This year, I decided to try something new and created a 2017 VIP Weekend Group on LinkedIn. I invited each attendee to the group and I post relevant information about the weekend. They're getting valuable tips (see point #2 on over-communication) and they can easily get in touch with each other after the event.
4. Be Prepared for a Few Speed Bumps
No matter how much planning you do, they'll always be something that goes wrong, doesn't work out or needs tending. Go in with the mindset that whatever happens, happens. You've already prepared yourself to create the ultimate VIP experience and nobody (but you) will ever know there were a few kinks. Keep the mindset that you've done your best and there will undoubtedly be something that needs your magic. Deep breaths. Be the rock star that you are and get everything worked out.
5. Enjoy Yourself
You've worked freaking hard to get this trip planned. You've done everything you possibly could do to ensure your attendees will be impressed with your company AND your excellent event-planning skills. Now take the time to have fun with them! In their mind, you're the star of the weekend. They know you made this happen and they want to see you relaxed. Take it all in - you deserve it.
Did I miss anything? What are your keys to success for incentive trips?
Megan A. Dutta