Going Lux

Looking to indulge staff for their next incentive, conference or event? Gwen O’Toole explores a few tips and tricks to make them feel like a million dollars

Right from the beginning (budget permitting) look into destinations that are renowned for luxury to travel. Destinations like Thailand, Dubai, the Maldives, Mauritius, Bali and Tahiti are all popular choices. If you’re staying within Australia, perhaps consider a ‘bucket list destination’ that many may never get a chance to see such as Broome, Ningaloo, the Whitsundays or the Kimberley Region etc. These destinations offer plenty of luxury accommodation options that are certain to impress.  If possible, consider all-inclusive options as well. What better way to enjoy a bit of luxury than to have free WiFi, health and wellness options included, and the like?

Depending on your destination, the arrival process for guests can be quite a statement. “We took an incentive group to a wilderness retreat in Western Australia that was only accessible by seaplane,” said Ly Nguyen from Melbourne-based Higher Ground. “Our group was reasonably small so we sent them each a beautiful leather duffel bag with a customised name tag for them to use on their luggage so everyone’s items fit nicely into the sea plane. It created such a wonderful impression and sense of luxury even before they reached the retreat.”

If your destination isn’t sea-plane friendly, consider luxury car transfers or a warm welcome reception on arrival. Destinations like Hawaii and Fiji are renowned for their joyous receptions with cool face cloths, cold drinks and local musicians welcoming you on arrival. If your group isn’t keen on an elaborate welcome or if attendees aren’t arriving at once, just having a simple welcome pack for guests on arrival with a warm greeting, seamless check in and even a small welcome gift waiting in their room is a great way to set the tone of the experience.  Think personalisation, people like to be treated as individuals so where possible include staff names on anything you are presenting them.

Extending an invitation to the family can be a wonderful way to allow them to enjoy some time away too.  It’s also a great way to acknowledge and appreciate company staff, particularly those who work long hours or are away from home frequently for work commitments. “We usually have options for partner program for those who bring along a plus one for our annual incentive,” said Nguyen. “We included activities such as a spa day, a golf day, a day tour of whatever city we’ve chosen. They’re usually quite popular and of course the partners are always welcome at the social functions in the evenings as well,” she added.

If you’re opening the invite to families, why not consider a resort with a great kids club option or take your event program onto a cruise ship where there are loads of options for family members and plus ones.

Including small touches such as free Wi-Fi or leaving a gift in the room that’s reflective of the destination can be a welcome treat. “I took an incentive group to Tasmania last year and over three nights we left a small gift in their room each night, nothing too extravagant,” says independent conference organiser Anna Puley. “We had a group of men and on the last night we left a bottle of Sullivan’s Cove whisky. Sullivan’s Cove is a local Tasmanian distillery and recently they were named as the producers of the world’s best single malt whisky, so we had a bottle in each room with a note about the whisky. It was a great way for them to feel special and take a bit of Tasmania home with them,” she says.

Organise a special meal with a local ‘celebrity chef’ or at a trendy dining hot spot to deliver the ‘wow’ factor Organising a private dining room experience where they can meet the chef or a wine matched degustation dinner will send them home with something to talk about.  Alternatively, have a chat with your venue manager as many venues are now including added extras into their catering options to treat delegates like afternoon ice cream breaks, lolly stations, fresh squeezed juices, barista-made coffee stations and more. If a teambuilding element is also part of your program, Puley says that she’s organised group cooking masterclasses or cocktail making workshops, even wine tasting with sommeliers as a way to break the ice and get groups interacting with each other.

Finish your conference or incentive event off with a bang. Invest in a farewell party that says thanks to your staff and motivates them for the year ahead. If you’re a smaller sized group and can’t really throw a big party, why not take a day in your itinerary and have a one-day escape. Take a day trip to somewhere fun and include some activities to let your attendees really unwind. It could also be a great way to incorporate a teambuilding activity into your schedule.

“We’ve taken groups on days trips out to a pontoon for some snorkelling and a beach barbeque or for a day of horse back riding.  It was a really wonderful way to include some teambuilding without the structured ‘team building’ style of a designated activity. It allowed our group to socialise, have fun and still bond a bit,” added Puley.

If you do choose to have a celebration event, invest in great entertainment and theming and don’t cut corners. Showing your staff that they are valued and appreciated is the biggest investment you can make so if you’re able to treat them, why not do it.