Four Tips for Creating an Unforgettable Staff Incentive Getaway

Rewarding staff who have hit their targets or been consistent performers with weekend getaways is a surefire way to boost productivity as well as morale.

The trick to organising incentive packages, says event management expert, chef and owner of Queenscliff restaurant 360Q Barry Iddles, is to always think about the ‘wow factor’.

“Taking staff out to lunch to say thank you for doing a great job is fine, but it’s also a little pedestrian,” he said. “If you can expand your budgets a little more, you can give your high achievers an experience they will remember for life – and that kind of treatment inspires loyalty and drives your corporate culture.”

Here, Barry reveals his top four tips to create a killer incentive event for your staff.

1. Get Creative

The best way to create a memorable event that your team will be talking about for years (and will work hard to earn their ticket to the next one) is to think outside the box.

“You need to offer something unique, off centre and not the norm,” Barry says. “It’s got to be pretty outlandish and something totally different. Don’t ask your staff to self-drive – hire a helicopter or charter a sports cruiser for a bayside sojourn with sparkling wine instead.”

Creative thinking applies to not just the transport or activities you organise, but also your choice of accommodation.

“We organised for a company from the Mornington Peninsula for its staff to travel across on the Searoad Ferry in a VIP area and then enjoy lunch at 360Q overlooking the Harbour and Port Phillip which was amazing, but then they stayed at Werribee Zoo overnight,” says Barry. “We have also had intimate dinners in our observation tower which has amazing views – it’s like a pop-up restaurant that most people do not get the chance to visit. Unique experiences are priceless.”

2. Keep It Action-Packed

The length and complexity of your event will depend on your budget and timing, but Barry says a two-day event is ideal to really make sure your staff understand you appreciate their efforts.

“Usually these events are small groups, around 10-20 people, so you can keep things moving along,” he says.

Plan at least three things to do in each day so there is always something to keep staff engaged and entertained.

“For instance, you could start the day with a game of golf, a gourmet lunch, a winemaking masterclass and then a cocktail party in the evening,” he says. “Rinse and repeat the next day with a yachting adventure, a tour of an olive grove or cheese factory and lunch at a vineyard.”

3. Centralise Your Organisation

Contacting 30 operators to get a good deal is time-consuming and sometimes quite frustrating. Barry recommends identifying one or two providers who have the contacts to be able to put together a package that will suit your business. This could be local businesses with established collaborations under their belt or tourism and government bodies such as Business Events Geelong (who can find you the perfect incentive options with quotes for free).

“Having a local on-ground who is organised, has contacts and can coordinate something to suit saves you incredible amounts of wasted time,” he says. “Small business thrives on collaboration, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors, so there is constant networking between companies that exist in the same area.”

Barry has championed collaboration efforts in Queenscliff and has hosted and organised media famils where journalists get a taste of the local area’s historic sights, natural wonders with dolphin and seal adventures as well as boutique accommodation.

“We are currently working on an amazing package for a corporate contact to include dinner in the observation tower as well as a yachting event, dolphin swim and a winemaking class – these events can be educational as well as fun,” he says. “We are also working with a new boating operator to provide on-board catering for day trips on Port Phillip Bay.”

4. Beauty of the Bellarine

The Bellarine Peninsula is unrivalled when it comes to natural and foodie attractions, says Barry, and, as it is only 1.5 hours from Melbourne, it’s a natural getaway choice.

“We’ve not only got amazing beaches and all the water-based activities that Melbourne residents love to escape to, the Bellarine Taste Trail is superb for its offerings of vineyards, cider-houses, local produce and farms and gourmet restaurants,” he says.

“With daily ferry services across The Rip from Sorrento, it’s also easy to factor in a day trip to the ‘other side’ if that’s an option.”

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