Problem Solving

Incentive Planning Takes “two Brains”

R.L. Fielding asked:

Scientists agree that, in most people, one side of the brain dominates. The right half of the brain controls the creative, artistic characteristics and the left side controls the practical, reasoning functions. The creators of incentive travel programs that drive sales team motivation must be able to simultaneously call on competencies from both sides to create a truly extraordinary travel experience.

These planners must essentially use “two brains” to not only get people from Point A to Point B in a logical and efficient manner, but to also make the experience enjoyable and truly memorable for all those involved. These planners must have the proper attributes and personality traits to be able to bridge seemingly disparate brain patterns to create a successful program.

Brain One: The Right Brain

The right brain focuses on the Liberal Arts of English, History, Foreign Language, Art and Music. The liberally educated man or woman “for all seasons” who is in tune with this half of their brain is best equipped to create heart-moving, mind-filling, exceptional incentive programs.

English and History

A good incentive travel proposal provides a romantic, moving description of the travel experience as the guests will live it, while also communicating all of the pertinent details. So its writer needs the poetic skills of a great romantic, as well as the discipline of a journalist. At the same time, the travel program should incorporate and celebrate the customs, the culture, the history of the travel destination to bring its uniqueness to life. The best travel programs inform and educate as well as host and entertain. And the incentive travel professional educates while he or she entertains.

Foreign Language

Do not mistake the intention here. An incentive travel creator need not be fluent in multiple languages to be successful. But a person who takes on the role of operating travel programs abroad can be of maximum effectiveness if he or she has a strong working knowledge of at least one foreign language. An understanding of the nuances within a language, and the relationships of different languages to one another, yields a deeper understanding of the differences among people.

Art and Music

The majority of guests on an incentive program are at the point in their lives where they are searching for truth and beauty. The artists and composers, the poets and sculptors and writers of the world have made a more lasting impression on our lives than all the generals and politicians and statesmen. And it is up to the incentive creator to use them, to bring them to life to create an exceptional incentive program.

Brain Two: The Left Brain

The left side of the brain possesses strength in the areas of Accounting, Math, Science, Geography and Business. The left brain serves as the pragmatic balance to the right brain’s poetic creations. It must figure out if the programs that have been outlined are executable, and fill in the mundane details.

Accounting and Math

Normally, the poet and the accountant are viewed as two dichotomous beings, yet they must co-exist in the mind of the incentive creator. Line item costs must be budgeted, reconciliations made, and the cash flow needs of suppliers, corporate sponsor and incentive creator prioritized. And most important, the program must be done within budget, with a fair profit for all. Along with this, one needs to have a basic command of arithmetic and algebraic manipulations that put one in command of numbers and, in turn, in command of problem solving.

Geography and Science

A working knowledge of basic physical science and the human machine is required. A planner must know about the affects of jet lag, and about the seasons in the southern hemisphere. If you plan a major party the first night in Hong Kong, or if you think you’ll find the warming sun of Argentina baking you to a golden brown in July (where it has reached as low as 28 degrees F.), you’re doomed to fail. The consummate incentive travel expert knows the geography of world as well as most people know their living room. They know not only the topography of the region they are planning the trip for, but where the capital is, what the major points of visual interest are, down to the exact details of if whether or not the water is drinkable, or for that matter, swimmable.


To survive, the incentive creator must be a pragmatic business pro, and must be know enough about their clients to create their ideal customized incentive program. The most common misconception about incentive travel — and the one that does the most damage — is that incentive creators are in the business of running “trips.” They are not. The creators of incentive travel programs are in the business of helping corporate marketers reach their business objectives.

The Challenge: Combining the Two

It is a basic tenet of the free enterprise system that the greater the effort, the greater the reward. One doesn’t earn the extraordinary for doing the common. There lives in each of us two human drives that, combined, explain why incentive travel works. The first is the need for applause, the need to feel appreciated by our employers and admired by our peers. The second motivator is the desire to travel, to see strange, new places. When you take your overachievers away to a distant place for the purpose of applauding them, you have married the dual needs for self-esteem and self-actualization … and have created the most powerful, inspirational force of all.

This is the reason why incentive travel has worked to move billions of dollars of products for thousands of corporations across the country. It is the very reason that incentive travel challenges the mind as no other profession does.

About Dittman Incentive Marketing

This article was provided by Dittman Incentive Marketing (, a quality leader in the field of people performance improvement. Since 1976, Dittman has helped companies achieve critical corporate goals via original, one-of-a-kind corporate incentive award programs that inspire sales team motivation, customers to buy more, and others to do more.

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