- When you throw a corporate retreat or reward trip, go all-in, plan your location, let your agents know what to expect and give your top producers some time to relax and connect.
You’ve had a killer year with sales through the roof, so trust us when we say there is no better way to reward your top producers than with an all-expenses paid corporate trip.
We know, we know; some of you may think this sounds crazy because of the cost or logistics involved in a corporate trip for dozens if not hundreds of team members.
But just think how excited, honored and appreciated you would feel if your firm said it values you so much it wants to give you a trip where you can soak up the sun as well as some excellent training.
It would be amazing, right?
You’d tell your friends, post pics to social media and make your peers wonder why they aren’t working for your firm.
A reward trip is more than a line item on your balance sheet, it’s the type of investment that will earn dividends for your business down the road from a sales and team retention standpoint.
According to the Incentive Research Foundation, nearly half of U.S. businesses use reward travel as an incentive, spending an estimated $22.5 billion a year.
The same study found a well-executed incentive travel program can increase sales productivity by 18 percent, producing an ROI of up to 112 percent.
But, before you start packing your bags, keep these tips in mind in order to successfully thank and energize your lead agents with a trip.
1. Go all-in
Once you’ve decided to host a trip, go all-in, and leave the second-guessing at home. If you’re even slightly hesitant about the idea, scrap it.
As we say in real estate — location, location, location. If the trip includes families, you’ll want a kid-friendly resort. Conversely, if it’s just team members, an adults-only locale might be best.
Make sure you check the resort’s internet connectivity. A real estate agent without internet access risks losing business, so this is crucial to a successful trip. If you’re planning team building exercises, like a beach foam party, make sure the resort offers that activity.
3. This isn’t Mardi Gras — establish expectations
Whether the trip is meant as a reward incentive, intensive training or a combination of the two, promote the trip accordingly.
Set criteria — like a specific number of listings or sales — so agents know how to qualify for the trip.
You’ll also want to share expectations on attendance at group activities on the trip and appropriate attire. Employees want to know what to expect.
4. The devil is in the details
If you’re going to invest in a reward trip, don’t be chintzy when it comes to swag and attention to details.
Greet attendees personally upon arrival, provide custom t-shirts and place welcome baskets for each attendee in hotel rooms.
Sales people know a thing or two about how great customer service can make a big impact.
5. Training wheels off, or on?
If training is part of your event, understand attendees’ experience levels and training needs. Your own company’s trainers might be great, but will hiring an expert from outside your firm elevate the experience?
Will an outside expert drive agents’ motivation to qualify for the trip? Recognize what you want to accomplish, and then bring the right people for the job.
6. Be mindful of Mother Nature
First, avoid locales that are susceptible to challenging weather, such as the Gulf Coast during hurricane season. And always have a backup plan in case the weather changes course.
At New Home Star’s recent Sales Rally in Cancun, Mexico, rough waters changed part of a Survivor-style team building activity, so we were able to quickly pivot to plan B.
7. Hello, my name is …
Time together away from the office gives your team a unique opportunity to connect on a personal level.
Be sure to have plenty of opportunities for attendees to interact without a business goal in mind. This is especially important if your teams are attending from multiple locations or offices as many individuals may be meeting for the first time.
8. Leave the home office where it belongs
Ensure everyone is engaged by having people staff the home office. Taking your top performers away for some relaxation and training will invigorate them and set them up for future success upon their return, which goes a long way toward improving the bottom line.
Try planning the event for later in the year — just when agents are starting to put together their business plans for the new year.
9. Do not disturb
One of the worst things you can do when hosting a corporate trip is overschedule. After all, this is supposed to be a reward. Have a group dinner or business meeting, but then let your top producers enjoy some leisure time.
10. Stay on your game
Whether you’re mingling with locals or other guests — there’s always a chance someone might need an agent.
At Baird & Warner’s recent trip to Cancun, an agent met another guest who offered to refer anyone he knew moving to Chicago because he was impressed by how the company was treating everyone during its trip. You never know where your next referral is coming from.
These tips will help you throw an epic corporate retreat that your agents will tell everyone about. They’ll come back refreshed and ready to continue killing it in sales.
Laura Ellis is president of residential sales and executive vice president of Baird & Warner.