Gift Cards and Incentives in the Experience Economy
In our last blog post we discussed the rapid growth of merchandise and gift cards as valuable experiences for sales incentives. We also talked about the advantage of these kinds of awards over cash only in driving sales. In this post, I’d like to take a deeper dive into what’s propelling the emerging experience economy and what that means for sales incentives.
Analyzing the Experience Economy
The experience economy is a theory first advanced by Pine and Gilmore in the late 90’s and subsequently updated by them in 2011. It is the philosophy that posits modern day consumers are relating more holistically to products and services and are seeking transformative experiences and memorable interactions and not just goods and services.
The roots of this trend go back to the “me” generation of the “baby boomers” and have evolved into the attributes of individualism and desire for personalization that define today’s consumers. Today’s consumers don’t want to be passive observers. They want to be active participants in experiences that thrill, delight, challenge, and take them out of their ordinary everyday lives.
The Elements of an Experience
Pine and Gilmore further developed their theory by creating an experience model to help businesses create authentic and dynamic experiences. The idea behind the model is that experiences can be of different kinds and of different intensities. According to the model, there are four dimensions of experience; entertainment, learning, aesthetics, and escapism. Other elements include active and passive participation, as well as, levels of absorption and immersion. The highest value achieved by creating an experience occurs when all four dimensions are included.
The Experience Economy and Sales Incentives
Understanding the elements of experience can help sales managers create more meaningful and exciting rewards for their sales teams and channel partners. If managers can offer memorable experiences that stimulate, educate, uplift, and delight their salespeople, their overall sales performance will rise dramatically. This again reflects the trend toward an experience economy with recipients looking for products that create a more robust personal experience, or that have deeper meaning for them.
Some Suggestions for Incentive Experiences
Here are a few gift experiences that have worked well with sales teams and channel partners:
Expenses paid day outings to golf or other resorts
Complimentary dinner/theater nights
Personalized merchandise and gift items
Comprehensive long weekends with complimentary sports or event tickets
All inclusive vacations to remote destinations
Frequent flier miles transferred to a sales person’s personal account
Covering dues for membership in professional associations or societies
Paying for attendance at educational conferences and seminars
Reimbursing tuition for successful completion of career certifications
Need some more ideas? Think of what kind of experiences would get you excited. Then offer them to your sales people.