Dittman Incentive Marketing wins IMA Circle of Excellence Award for its latest ‘Great Cities’ incentive program
By William Keenan Jr.
“DEX – In the City by the Bay,” showcasing San Francisco, is the most recent sales incentive travel program put together by Dittman Incentive Marketing for DEX Imaging, a document management firm based in Tampa, FL.
The program, which recently won the Incentive Marketing Association’s prestigious “Circle of Excellence” award at the 2011 Motivation Show, owes a lot of its success to the series of “Great Cities in North America” programs that Dittman Incentive Marketing has created for DEX Imaging, beginning eight years ago in New Orleans.
The goal then – and now – was to drive sales during the typically slow Spring/Summer selling season by offering DEX Imaging sales reps a travel award that would be engaging and motivating. Since the company’s sales territories are mostly in the southeast U.S., the program focused on destinations in other regions “We wanted to give their sales associates the unique experience of exploring the great cities of North America,” says Jim Dittman, President of Dittman Incentive Marketing.
After the inaugural incentive trip to New Orleans, the list of destinations moved north, Dittman says, “where sales associates could enjoy some of the more crisp air north of the Mason-Dixon line.” Over the next few years, the program has touched down in Washington DC, Boston, Montreal, Chicago and New York City.
“We’ve essentially given DEX sales associates a string of great experiences in North America’s great cities,” says Dittman. “We really try to give them a chance to learn something about the city, to sample the best of the city’s regional food, restaurants, wine, entertainment and landmarks, and cap it off with a final night they’ll remember. It’s kind of a classic example of how you want to do incentive travel and how you want it to work. As soon as the next destination is announced, there’s a fire in people’s eyes because they don’t want to miss it. Either they’ve been on an earlier trip and they know what it’s like, or they had heard from their friends what it was like and the kind of things they did.”
The “City by the Bay” incentive program ran from April 1 through July 2010. To qualify (for themselves and a guest), each sales associate had to meet targeted sales goals for the selling period. A dedicated website communicated information on all aspects of the program, including contest rules, leader boards and trip details. Qualifiers could also use the site to make travel arrangements and choose optional excursions to Muir Woods, Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz and other sites, as well as group experiences like cooking classes and spa treatments.
The program also included a private tour and wine tasting at Silver Oaks Cellars Winery for DEX Imaging’s “Inner Circle” members, and a final-night awards gala for all participants with entertainment by The Three Tenors at San Francisco City Hall.
Also included in the San Francisco program was a “Foot Rallye,” which has become a signature element of the Great Cities programs. “We break the guests into teams of around 8-10 people and give them a set of directions and routes to follow and things to look for – with questions that need to be answered or something significant that needs to be noted about some of the sights and landmarks along the way,” Dittman explains. “They also have to take a picture of the entire team in front of the scene or landmark they’re looking for, so they have to get someone local involved in order to take the picture.” At the end of the rally, participants are asked to put together a display of the rally sites, and the teams are then judged on their efforts. It’s a great way to emphasize team-building and camaraderie.
Dittman ensures that the programs continue to improve and engage attendees each year by surveying participants on their impressions at the end of each trip and getting their input. “We ask them to rate the performance of the hotel and staff, rate the itinerary and events, how they liked the optional activities that they chose, whether they had the right amount of leisure time and asks for suggestions on itinerary items that might be expanded or deleted,” he explains. “And we also ask them to give us their preferences for future destinations.”
Dittman says the success of the program is evident in the visceral reaction on the part of DEX sales associates when the next program is announced – “it’s basically, ‘I’m not going to miss this,’” he says.
It’s also evident in the numbers for the program. For example, the San Francisco program helped boost DEX Imaging’s sales for the program period by 18.5% over the previous year, and the contest ended up generating 36.6% of DEX’s sales for the year – all during what is historically the company’s slowest sales season.
Further evidence of the program’s success is that 100% of eligible sales associates participated in the program, and 33% of all eligible participants met or exceeded their sales goals.
“What’s really worth noting,” Dittman proudly says, “is that since these group travel incentives began in 2002, the percentage sales increase through 2010 has been an astounding 908.1%.”
William Keenan Jr. is Senior Editor of Engagement Strategies Magazine