Experientials are on the rise in rewards programs. Is your organization paying attention to the trend?
According to the Incentive Research Foundation’s 2017 Trends Study, 42 percent of rewards programs today are increasing their offering of experience-based options. Vacations, culinary excursions, private classes, music outings and other experiences are gaining traction as attractive incentives.
And even outside of rewards programs, experientials are quickly gaining a foothold in retail and consumer offerings. An article in U.S. News explores the rise of hands-on personalized wellness and travel experiences. Another in Houston Chronicle lists experiences (and the ubiquitous “FOMO” factor) as a key food trend to look out for in 2017.
Why are experientials so hot right now?
One huge distinction: As we’re discovering, experientials offer a chance for participants to connect on an emotional level with the reward.
Consider being awarded a gift card valued at $1,000 for a job well done. Now, consider being awarded a trip worth that same $1,000 to the outing of your choosing — perhaps being flown out to your favorite sporting event or awards show, or a short getaway with a loved one, or a music outing with VIP access along the way. Which reward do you suppose you would remember most fondly and attach a stronger emotional connection to?
On top of the emotional appeal, experientials allow for a larger degree of personalization for the recipient. They let the participant seek out the type of experience that appeals to them on an individual level. Maybe it relates to their professional development, their personal interests, their family, their wellness pursuits — the options are as wide as the experiences you include in your portfolio.
And it is indeed important to include a wide array of experientials in your portfolio.
As Allan Schweyer reminds us, different generations can value different things. In Generations in the Workforce & Marketplace: Preferences in Rewards, Recognition & Incentives, Schweyer notes that baby boomers might lean toward more intimate events with friends and colleagues, while millennials may prefer more extreme, physical experiences (and Gen Xers may fall in between the two, not particularly valuing one type over the other).
So there’s always good reason to review your rewards portfolio and ensure it’s as diverse as your participants. And especially with experiential rewards, since you have a huge potential to tailor your offerings to reach your participants on an emotional level that they’re bound to remember.
Want to learn more about experientials?