Some 100 Yamaha executives and dealers experienced a true “Incentive Class” trip to Japan organised by incentive specialist EVT Marketing. Indeed the programme was considered so successful that the global body representing the interests of incentive professionals, the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE), awarded the Australian company, its Crystal Award for Most Outstanding Travel Reward Programme.
The party were from Australia and New Zealand and had the opportunity to see Japan in a completely different light from that of the independent or package tour traveller.
With overall responsibility for the tour was Virginia Trautwein, one of Australia’s pioneer incentive practitioners and renowned for her ability to focus on the smallest of details to ensure a smooth outcome for her clients, who comprise a “who’s who?” of corporate Australia and New Zealand.
EVT’s winning travel programme was one element of a broader performance improvement initiative for Yamaha’s motorcycle and marine divisions in Australia and New Zealand. EVT organised for 200 of Yamaha’s top-performing internal staff and dealers from both countries to visit Japan as part of a programme that bypassed the traditional leisure and cultural areas readily available in the country.
The programme measured performance across a number of criteria such as standards, marketing, customer service and sales.
The ten-day trip was certainly busy, with the Antipodean visitors keen to “do” rather than see things and to this end EVT conducted two exhaustive site inspections to rail down the program. The tendency on the part of the local destination management companies to take the safe route of hotel ballrooms for themed events was resisted strenuously by the EVT team, who were determined that each and every venue was quite special.
They were certainly on the move, with Yamaha factory tours in Okinawa, Hamamatsu (Yamaha HQ), a visit to Tokyo and couple of days in the snows of Sapporo.
The programme was not without its challenges, says Virginia Trautwein: “In Japan, the custom is for people to travel to a destination and then relax completely. With Australians and New Zealanders the emphasis is all about having plenty of things to do. So we had to work up a wide range of activities for our guests.”
This included plenty of themed entertainment, martial arts, meditation, helicopter flights and the chance for ski lessons at Sapporo, home to the best powder snow on the planet. Finding ski gear for a group of 200 generally taller and heavier than most Japanese was a challenge in itself.
One of the highlights in Sapporo was an exercise whereby the guests were taken on a chairlift ride up a mountain, then mounted snow mobiles for a cruise down the snow to a beautiful spot where they dismounted and cooked themselves a barbecue lunch, with a tiny brazier supplied for every couple. It was an enormous success.
In Tokyo, the visitors were given maps at the host hotel, Four Seasons Tokyo, and sent out to navigate the streets and underground systems of this teeming metropolis where English is only evident by its nearly complete absence. It gave them a chance to experience Japan the Japanese way and was a complete change from the insulation of coach transfers.
“We organised some of the traditional Japanese ceremonies to be presented in such a way that many, if not all, our guests played a part, one way or another,” says Trautwein. “For our farewell dinner, we recreated the madness of a Japanese game show and had our guests turn up in Gothic outfits. Our table settings had the logo of Yamaha and there was plenty of recognition given to the top-performing members of the group. Of course, we also had to have a karaoke night in the land where it originated
“As a result, this programme presented unique logistical challenges.? Both the Yamaha staff and dealers were amazed at what we subsequently achieved.? The Crystal award is the trifecta in a way, and all of us at EVT who worked on this programme are excited to have received recognition as a peer among the world’s best relationship marketing agencies,” says Trautwein.
EVT Marketing event manager Lisa Smith was especially proud of her team.? “We not only managed to come up with the right programme, but also delivered and achieved creative and cultural solutions and our traditional ‘wow’ factor.
“Our clients rely on EVT to make their businesses more prosperous by finding ways to motivate staff, consistently improve overall business performance and ensure brand strength and positioning in line with our clients objectives.? By investing the time to understand our client’s business and provide a bespoke solution, we are able to consistently roll out effective solutions like this award-winning programme.”