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At least a year ago after I had presented the three elements of a successful program at a breakfast for business leaders I was taken aside by one of the attendees at the end of the event.

She said to me ‘You know that you were saying about how people will share about their experiences much more than talk about their possessions, well I agree to a point, but not all experiences are worth talking about.’

Of course at this point my ears pricked up (she couldn’t be talking about RedBalloon experiences surely!). I asked her to clarify what she meant because all the research that I have read says that an organisation using experiential rewards can spend as much as half the amount to get the same result as a program based on cash or merchandise, because people want to share their award with family or friends.

When asked ?how do you want to be rewarded for a job well done?? only .01 said a desk accessory, .04 said flowers, 1.4% said a CD/DVD voucher 1.7% movie tickets. 17% said dinner out (though these are really hard to organise and can be embarrassing at expense claim time) and 56% said a fun activity with family and friends.

Knowing this I was quite surprised at this woman?s question. She explained further that she had a job putting on events, and what her manager did to ‘thank’ her was arrange to have some personal items delivered to the suite of the hotel and this woman got to spend the weekend at the hotel. She said ?quite frankly this ‘experience’ was the loneliest weekend of her life. As a single mother she simply hated being a canary in a gilded cage?.

I responded ?out of what you have heard in my presentation what was the element that was missing in this sort of reward….?? After some thought she agreed. Choice.

Even now after putting together countless programs we still never assume that we will know which experience someone will choose. You never know what they have always wanted to get up to;)

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