Archives for June 2012

How Far Would Your Incentive Partner Go For You?

I love to travel.  I also love being able to help clients plan the most outstanding incentive program possible.  And after being in this business for over 25 years, I know how important it is to get all the details right.  So when a recent site inspection didn’t measure up to our standards, we knew what had to be done.

Our 4-day PEI Executive Summit in Cabo was followed by an 8-day program.  In between, we scheduled a site visit in anticipation of bringing our clients to the location later in the year for the “official” site visit.  We were stunned when we found major issues in food and beverage and the overall level of service at the hotel we had intended to use.  We had high expectations for first class accommodations, butler service in the rooms and concierge level support throughout the facility.

We endured three meals, each with its own issues.  Bacon and sausage swimming in its own fat at the breakfast buffet; poorly presented bread/olive oil at dinner; frozen fish that was still cold and ultimately tasteless;  chocolate soufflé that was actually a chocolate lava cake, which would have been nice if that’s what had been ordered.

We met with onsite management, our salesperson and the Director of Food and Beverage.  We conveyed all of our concerns and informed them that we were prepared to move the program to another property.  We requested a conference call with the General Manager the following week, after he returned from a business trip.

During that following week, we were once again hosting a program with another group but during our free time, followed up with the General Manager on a Friday.  He assured us that the situation was caused by a confluence of issues and promised that steps would be taken to ensure that by the time we returned with our client, scheduled for the Fall, all would be well.

We said, “Great!  See you on Tuesday.”  So rather than head home after nearly 3 weeks on the road, we made one more visit to the property.  We also took the opportunity to spend an extra 2 days on the island and check out a different property just in case it was needed.

We’re happy to report that the General Manager’s promise was kept.  Almost overnight, the staff “got their act together.”  The food and beverage experiences matched or exceeded our expectations.  We sampled almost every food offered in every restaurant (small samples, thank you!) to ensure top quality.  And at every level, the service was transformed.

Our goal was not to fix their problems but to ensure that they are capable of delivering the level of service and quality of experience that we expect for our clients.  And this they accomplished.  When the time comes to take our client for their own site inspection, we will again satisfy ourselves that the property is perfect by arriving 2-3 days early and reviewing every detail as we have already done.

It would have been nice to be home for those four days but that’s the price of delivering excellence.  A price we’re willing to pay.

Just One of Those “Lifetime Memories”

Last month I wrote about the wonderful time we had in Los Cabos during our PEI Executive Summit.  I want to talk more about one particular event that was so amazing that I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Travel is a huge part of the work Colin and I do and we love it. However it can be exhausting to always be on the road.  The last six months in particular, have been very busy with programs, site inspections, and hosting our own executive summits.  Rarely do we have the opportunity to be the recipient of any of the special services that we create for our clients.  This was an exception.

The Fiesta Americana Grand in Los Cabos has designed an evening called “Barefoot Elegance.”  From start to finish, all five senses are engaged – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.

It starts as we approach the beach.  We are greeted by butlers who “check” our shoes, remove them on trays and escort us to a living room on the beach with overstuffed rattan couches where we are served grape martinis and hors d’oeuvres.  After enjoying this brief respite, we are then taken further down the beach where there are 12 massage therapists standing in various yoga positions awaiting their guests.  The sun is setting, casting a beautiful glow over the whole scene.  At each guest “station” there was an overstuffed rattan chaise and a small wine barrel.  What happened next was quite unexpected!

We each were helped into our own individual barrel where we proceeded to stomp on purple wine grapes.  Aided by the therapists, we smashed and laughed, not realizing that the therapy had already started.  After a few minutes, we settled into the lounge chairs and enjoyed foot and lower leg massages with rare French grape seed oil and the grapes we had just crushed.  Closing our eyes, we could hear the ocean and waves crashing on the sand in front of us, feel the wind, smell the aroma of the grapes and citrus incense as well as enjoy the sensations of the massage.

The timing of day for this event was perfect.  When we opened our eyes, the tiki torches had been lit and the sun was disappearing over the horizon.  At this point, the wine sommelier took us through an exquisite wine and canapé pairing just as the stars began to appear.  After a short presentation on the constellations over Los Cabos, we moved to a private dining table where we watched the chef prepare and serve a magnificent five-course meal.  Another unexpected delight was the staff member who performed a romantic Italian opera aria over dessert.  It was just magnificent.

After dinner, we enjoyed some social time at the fire pit, tasting Mexican liqueurs and listening to live music.  By this time, the sun had fully set and the scene on the beach was warm and totally relaxing. Good food, good wine and good friends.

It’s not often that we step out of the role of host but on this occasion, I really felt like we had been on   the receiving end of this incentive program and of the world-class treatment we endeavor to deliver to our clients.  It was an experience I will remember for a long, long time!