The ITM Events team is passionate about incentive programs for 3 main reasons – travel, the food and the experiences.
In this post we’re going to talk about the experiences component of incentive programs and more specifically, off-site experiences. Off-site experiences are when you transport your guests away from the main location of your event to a different location for a meal or activity.
Using a venue where you can host your entire event is most certainly ideal but what the off-site experience offers your guests is an opportunity for a change of scenery. A change of scenery does a few things for your guests.
- It allows them to experience a different location in the city or country.
- It allows an opportunity for team building.
- It revives and energizes them.
Off-site experiences can be something as simple as taking them to dinner at a local restaurant. Or, depending on your group and budget, you can do something adventurous. We want you to keep in mind that in 2023 your attendees are looking for experiences that go beyond a beach they can spend 3 days on. They are looking for life moments that they capture on their cameras and in their minds so that they can share them on social media and with their family and friends at Christmas dinner.
Julia was recently in Puerto Rico at an industry event and the event had 4 off-site experiences – a hands-on learning opportunity, a lunch at a local restaurant, a boat and beach adventure and a dinner at an unusual event venue.
Let’s look at each of those off-site experiences and talk about what each entailed and what advantages were experienced by the attendees.
This experience went beyond just a tour of the Bacardi facility and beyond being shown how to make a mojito and pina colada. This experience included a buggy ride around the facility; a stop in one of the buildings to talk about the history of Bacardi with a taste test of a product that is only available on the Bacardi tour; and, a hands-on super engaging mixology class where we were taught how to make both beverages and we got to enjoy both after making them.
This experience was done on the first full day of the event. It was done in the morning between work. It was a great way to break up a long work day and because it was done early on in the program it was a great team building experience. It gave the attendees, who at this point didn’t really know each other, an opportunity to get to know each other through laughter, dancing and making fun cocktails.
Normally I would not recommend a 10:30am mixology class but because we were on a tropical island the “5 o’clock somewhere” rule applies and it worked out perfectly as our pre-lunch, appetite builder.
Casa Bacardi Mixology
Lunch on the first day was done at a local restaurant in the old part of the city, Old San Juan.
Taste their authentic 1800’s century Gastronomy. They are the only restaurant that has integrated in the menu recipes of 6 different Puerto Rican cookbooks published between in 1859-1950. Their menu is fully inspired by their culture and history.
Enjoy the most complete Puerto Rican Rum collection; taste all of the brands produced in the Rum Capital of the world.
Feel the magic at a place of human Heritage. A historical wall that serves as a backdrop and links them to places declared world heritage site will make you feel the magic of the place.
This was a great experience for the attendees because it took them to an area of the city they had not yet visited; a really important part of the city, the old city where it all began. This local restaurant serves local foods, the way the locals eat it. When we take groups to destinations rich in culture we try to avoid any Americanised restaurants so that our guests can experience the local culture. Sure, there is value in taking your guests to a fancy high-end restaurant and there is most certainly a time and place for that but in most cases we’ll encourage our clients to eat local.
There are so many advantages to eating at a local restaurant. The most obvious to us is that you are supporting a local business and experiencing traditional food and culture. The more important advantage that our clients should consider is that it will likely save you money. Local restaurants do what they do because they love it and most often are not charging the prices that you will find at large brand name chain restaurants.
This stunning uninhabited island is located just off the coast of Fajardo. Its crystalline waters make Palomino a great snorkeling spot.
We talk a lot about how important it is to make sure that your swag and entertainment are relevant to your event, your brand and your location. The same goes for selecting your off-site experiences. In this particular case, the experience included a boat ride and a few hours at the beach. The program had not included any other water or beach time so this was a great way to give the attendees the opportunity to enjoy what they come to the islands for.
Similar to the mixology class, this experience is a great team building activity because it takes people out of their comfort zone and gives them an opportunity to interact with those around them. The boat ride was bumpy and lots of water was splashing the guests which made for many laughs and some great photos.
Once we arrived on the island we were treated to a private catered lunch before being sent off for some free time. The experience was topped off with a reserved area on the beach where we had access to lounge chairs, branded beach towels and free drinks.
The final off-site experience for the event was a dinner at an usual event venue.
Located in a Spanish colonial-style hacienda, The Barn at Hacienda Siesta Alegre offers ample space to dance the night away under the stars, with charming features and grand views of El Yunque Rainforest and the surrounding nature.
After having spent multiple days together working and getting to know each other, this was a great farewell social activity. The venue was unusual so it provided an experience for the attendees as they arrived to walk around and check everything out, take photos and videos. As part of the experience there was a musical trio and a rum specialist. The music was passive and the rum experience was interactive and educational.
Off-site experiences play a crucial role in the success of incentive programs, offering attendees a chance to break away from the main event location and immerse themselves in new and exciting environments. As highlighted through Julia’s recent experience in Puerto Rico, these off-site activities provide unique advantages for participants. They not only allow attendees to explore different locations and engage in team-building opportunities but also revitalize and energize them, creating memorable moments that extend beyond the event itself. Whether it’s a mixology class at Casa Bacardi, a lunch at a local restaurant in Old San Juan, a beach adventure on Palomino Island, or a farewell dinner at The Barn at La Hacienda Siesta Alegre, off-site experiences offer participants a chance to capture life-changing experiences, share them with others, and create lasting memories. Incentive programs should prioritize incorporating these experiences to enhance attendee engagement and ensure a truly unforgettable event.