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Impact / 8.29.17

Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility

By Aoife Delaney

Results from the 2017 SITE Index show that incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into an incentive travel program has become the norm, with approximately seven in ten programs including a CSR activity.

Today, many companies are using Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities to maximize the incentive travel experience, strengthen bonds among employees, and help them feel a sense of pride in their company. And, incentive travel participants are seeking more personalized experiences indigenous to the program destination, as well as activities that allow them to give back to the communities they visit.

According to research from Cone Communications, “Millennials are universally more engaged in corporate social responsibility efforts and are, above and beyond, more likely to participate in CSR initiatives if given the opportunity.” This means that, more than ever before, we need to ensure that we are creating CSR activities that specifically target and excite this group.

Millennial’s preferences for fun personalized workouts, healthy foods and holistic wellness are fueling trends with far-reaching implications for the travel and hospitality industry. As a DMC, wellness is one of the areas that we focus on to ensure that we are catering to these preferences. For example, at many of our events we supply bikes for delegates to use to explore the destination. We also provide guides for delegates to walk the route to venues that are within walking distance and just simply require an earlier meet time.

When looking to leave a legacy in a destination we like to incorporate a wellness element into a CSR activity. One example is to revisit the traditional ‘treasure hunt’ experience and instead provide delegates an opportunity to work together towards a positive, common goal of “giving back” to the destination. We supply each team with buckets, spades, seeds, saplings and a GPS unit with co-ordinates that they need to follow. At each designated spot there is the opportunity for the team to plant a tree/create a garden along their trail – leaving a beautiful and lasting mark on the local destination, at the same time providing the outdoor activity Millennials look for in their lifestyle.

When considering CSR activities, we need to focus a lot more on current global issues rather than just localized ones. Millennials have come of age during a time of enormous economic and social disruption, and this gives them a very different set of attitudes and behaviors than previous generations. One example is the migrant crisis that speaks closely to this generation, as they are growing up experiencing it first hand. CSR programmed are now including opportunities for a company to give back to the migrant community by offering ‘English as a second language’ classes and supporting employees whose relatives are still living in unsafe areas by providing safe transit and sponsorship.

Millennials are not looking for tried and tested programmed – they enjoy the unknown, and want to be challenged. It is important for planners to uncover Millennials’ distinctive passion points, and engage them in a way that speaks to their personal drivers. And it’s up to us, as experiential specialists, to design CSR activities that are far more creative and unique than ever before.

Aoife Delaney, CIS, is Director of Global Sales, DMC Network, Dublin, Ireland and has been elected to the SITE International Board of Directors for 2018.

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