Rutger Hoorn, CIS, DES
Rutger Hoorn is an accomplished explorer, event industry professional, content creator, relationship builder, and father :wink:. Traveling throughout the year to connect and build relationships, Hoorn works to create memorable event experiences for Ovation Global DMC.
While face to face meetings, conferences, and events can seem to more naturally convert into online replacements, it is the “I” in MICE – the Incentive, which is most difficult to imagine transposed into a virtual format. That said, DMCs are nothing but creative and imaginative. We at Ovation Global DMC recently launched our Virtual Incentive Experience (V.I.E.) for Spain and I wanted to share how we did it.
Launching a Virtual Incentive Experience
The first question we inevitably get is how did we come up with this Virtual Incentive Experience Idea? Had it been in the pipeline for a long time or was it a purely Covid-response undertaking? Truthfully, the ideation of this V.I.E. was in the pipeline for quite few months, but the acceleration was made during the first weeks of lock down in Europe.
We chose Spain as the country to initially launch the experience from because the Ovation Spain DMC team came up with the concept and turned this strategically. Additionally, Spain still is one of our top producing countries when it comes to incentive programs globally.
What were the biggest challenges in turning it into a reality?
Creating a virtual, time-lined experience that was not a replacement of face to face events. Nothing replaces the actual visit, and we know that. So instead, we really drilled into what attendees appreciate best and what most engages them during an incentive trip. We tried to include elements that are drivers for virtual enjoyment, while positioning this experience as either a standalone, or as a teaser of what is to come when face to face returns.
A Taste of the Country's Offerings
Each day there is a different theme-related activity – music, art, food etc. We structured our initial launch around the idea that this experience takes place as a few hours each day.
That said, like any other incentive trip experience we work with clients on, the full experience can be tailored to the needs of you, the client and what your participants are needing and wanting. In other words, we can support a full day experience, but understanding digital engagement and attention span, this is more feasible as a multi-day environment – entirely branded or adjusted as per the client’s wishes.
Main Benefits of a Virtual Incentive Experiences
As we all struggle to figure out the new normal for employee recognition trips like this, it's important to remember that many of the main benefits of a company offering their clients a virtual incentive experience still exist.
That said, we recognize that V.I.E. is not a replacement for an actual recognition program. It is more an added value to the current rewards (often cash or points) which companies provide their qualifiers with. V.I.E takes the attendees virtually away from their home and provides fun and engaging virtual enjoyment. It is a tool for companies to offer creative content to their qualifiers/winners and bring the community together in a shared experience. This stimulates excitement, which motivates attendees to continue performing well.
8 Tips for Planning a Virtual Incentive Experience
Here are the best tips we want to pass on when planning a virtual incentive trip.
- Plan and create engaging content
- Involve digital events strategists to maximize the virtual experience in an online environment
- Plan for solid engagement tools during the virtual experience so attendees can interact at will
- Keep the FUN level high
- Adapt to the client’s wishes of course, but make sure the timeline and experience are created strategically
- Make it personal, don’t over produce, make it as human as possible
- Include gamification
- Include trophies or points with awards for the attendees that most engage with the online content
We're working on unveiling offerings for other countries in the near future. Stay tuned and we'll hopefully talk with you soon!
A version of this interview previously appeared on the SITE website.