Finding Post-Merger Success Using an Enhanced Incentive Travel Strategy

ITA Group
ITA Group

Mergers and acquisitions. They're nothing if not complex.

The amount of elements c-suite executives and their teams must consider to ensure the successful, smooth combination of corporate entities, not to mention their varying business approaches and organizational cultures, can be daunting.

One of those considerations? Employee retention.

Specifically, top-performer retention.

Any time a merger or acquisition presents itself, the possibility exists that top performers are going to weigh their options.

Is this still the place for them?

Are their contributions going to continue to be recognized?

Is there room to grow?

How Incentive Travel Can Help

An incentive travel solution is one way to fuel retention—especially when the strategy is on point.

After all, when done right, a strategic incentive travel solution promotes a maintained focus on existing goals and facilitates a culture of camaraderie in the wake of organizational change.

And that’s important, because mergers and acquisitions are on the rise, growing 18% from 2014 to 2015, and continuing in 2016.

What’s important to know is that the upward trend impacts organizations and industries of all shapes and sizes.

That specifically includes the organizations and industries that ITA Group, as a global engagement solutions partner, serves.

One Incentive Travel Success Story

In 2013, one of our own clients, a recognized leader in its own industry with an independent sales channel audience and an existing incentive travel strategy, moved into uncharted territory when it was acquired by a leading industry peer.

No stranger to the benefits of incentive travel, it quickly identified an opportunity to leverage the core of the approach in which it had found value for years—in a new way, and for the benefit of the whole.

Recognizing and Analyzing Post-Merger Challenges

Following the acquisition, the organization identified a number of corporate-wide challenges, including a lack in overall brand identification and an average industry financial strength rating.

As a result, it engaged ITA Group in an effort to analyze its situation and provide an expert recommendation as it related to existing business challenges.

We surveyed participants to gauge a variety of factors from perception of the existing incentive (the incentive the client had leveraged pre-acquisition) to awareness of the program to level of engagement.

We also requested data that would ultimately prove invaluable in showcasing the true potential of an enhanced strategy for the broader audience.

And, we leveraged historic relationship strength to offer thought leadership and meaningful recommendations that the larger organization would find new value in—and that would move the needle on production. 

Breaking Down Post-Merger Analysis Findings

The numbers confirmed approximately a third of incentive trip winners slowed or stopped production once they qualified.

Survey responses indicated a lack of awareness on the part of participants—awareness about their goals, as well as why and how they were earning within the existing rule structure.

The responses also indicated a lack of brand strength—both corporate and program—following the acquisition.

Our Strategic Recommendation

Following our detailed data analysis, we knew we needed to align and motivate participants to maintain engagement and find a way to inspire their efforts, so we recommended a Top-Ten Performer Tier within the existing strategy.

The addition was designed to inspire an intensified spirit of competition among top participants and ensure continued production after achievement of the program’s base goal.

The implementation came with exclusive travel enhancements for the Top-Ten Performer Tier—things like post-travel extensions with select excursions—to further enrich the authentic experience for top performers, recognize their above-and-beyond contributions and inspire loyalty.

The recommendation also included a total program re-brand as well as a more robust, more strategic communications campaign in support of the brand.

The creative recommendation supported the larger corporate brand, allowing participants—old and new—to concurrently identify with the program and the organization.

And, it featured a host of tactical touchpoints designed to increase education and engagement.

The Results

The results showed that the enhanced incentive travel strategy disrupted the status quo and inspired success—in fact, it was exactly the motivation the audience needed.

In 2015, the first year in which the Top-Ten Performer Tier was featured, post-event survey data included results like these:

  • 88.65% of award winners said the incentive program motivated them to achieve program objectives.
  • 88.33% of award winners said the incentive trip was extremely motivating in achieving their business goals.

The client found proven value in the result, carrying the strategy into its current-year offering.

And it’s no surprise, considering properly designed and executed incentive travel programs, on average, can increase sales productivity by 18% and produce an ROI of 112%.

Inspiring Organizational Success with Solid Incentive Travel Strategy

Achieving such returns within your organization or independent sales channel starts with aligning and motivating your people, then delivering a completely authentic, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A strategic incentive travel solution does both, helping you achieve the significant results you’re looking for and inspiring an enhanced culture along the way. 

With a future-minded strategy at the heart of every move you make, you’ll get a roadmap to greater success at all stages of your incentive travel program. And you can start to create that strategy by asking yourself these five key questions