Rewards are more successful in engagement programs when they provide a sense of emotional connection for the recipient. This is why merchandise trumps cash — cash is cold, hard money, but offering recipients an array of rewards tailored to their unique interests, values and sense of recognition provides such a greater appeal. And for this reason, experiential rewards are starting to take off in recognition and rewards programs.
Experientials provide exactly what they sound like — experiences. Whether a vacation getaway to the Bahamas, or a cooking tour in an Italian village, or perhaps a trip to a local sporting or music event, experientials provide something for the recipient to do, not just have.
There are a host of reasons why people love experientials so much, but here four key benefits that make them such a powerful part of a rewards program:
1) They create emotions.
When we have an experience, we feel it on an emotional level, and emotions are a huge driving force in how we make our decisions. In the e-book “The Art and Science of Engaging Rewards,” Allan Schweyer tells us that as much as 70 percent of our decisions are driven by emotion. Creating positive emotions with your recipients can become an incredibly strong driver for lasting performance and engagement.
2) They create memories.
Not only do experiences make us feel good, they are memorable because they are unique and stand out from the everyday. A recipient may appreciate receiving a gift card or cash prize of $500 so they can stash it away for savings or splurge on something on their shopping list, but providing them with a hands-on trip or experience builds lasting memories that will forever be tied to your organization and the reason they received the reward.
3) They allow for shared experiences.
Depending on the type of reward, experientials have the opportunity to be shared among recipients. Perhaps it’s a group trip or outing that top performers are awarded to go on together. An excellent example of this is a warehouse run, where recipients are taken on a special outing to run through a warehouse of merchandise and grab as much as they can on teams. It’s a vacation, a team-building exercise, and a merchandise trip all in one — and every bit as exciting and memorable as being on a real game show.
4) They can reach recipients’ interests and values on a deeper level than merchandise alone.
Let’s say you have a recipient whose passion is music. The biggest music-related merchandise reward you might be able to offer this recipient is free music, or perhaps a music store gift card, or the latest music/speaker technology. But if you were able to offer this recipient a trip to the Grammy Awards, with airfare and accommodations included, you’ve just provided an opportunity for an experience that is not only once-in-a-lifetime, but greatly surpasses the music-specific experience that any gift card or speaker could provide.
Experientials are taking flight in the rewards and recognition industry, and we’re looking forward to hearing about some of the great experiences out there that are being offered and experienced.