By Tahira Endean, CMP, DES, CED, Head of Events, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE)
It will always be humans weaving stories through art, motion and inflection who bring our brains and hearts into one place for lasting impact.
Why are organizations more interested than ever in leaving a legacy in the wake of their events? There are many reasons including an authentic interest in supporting the community where you do business or meet, positive brand building through community service, and understanding humans like to be involved in activities they feel good about.
All communities have areas of need. Whether you are new to including a social impact project or have a long history of including a project, working with your local hosts, whether a corporation or a local chapter of your association will provide guidance. If you don’t already have a project you support or are going to a new or unfamiliar destination you can work with the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for suggestions. Many destination management companies (DMCs) are also well positioned to provide options and can often do this in a turn-key fashion, coordinating the project, any tools or supplies and suitable space and on-site coordination to make it a smooth process for all. Any of these will happily assist you to thoughtfully find groups in need locally and help you develop a suitable event which maximizes the experience for both community and the event participants. Key is keeping it real.
Incentives and Social Legacy, aka Leveling Up Should you include a social legacy event in your incentive program? Like everything else, know your participants. Often your highest achievers are also deeply willing to give back in both monetary and non-monetary ways and it may very well enrich their experience, providing an intrinsic reward as it aligns with their values. When you are engaged physically or emotionally connected by doing something locally meaningful, your internal reward systems are kicked up a notch. When planning a loyalty reward trip, a careful selection will create new conversations and deeper connections among participants. These will be the moments they cherish, and grow relationships from.
When they share their experiences. The idea of “lifescaping”, how we photo-story our lives, is real across generations, with events on the highlight reel. Our obligation as event designers is to offer up material worth sharing! We do this by creating photo-worthy special environments and moments that delight, and allow time (and wi-fi) for our guests to share these.
Understand, it is not these photo moments that will create the transformations in thoughts, attitudes or behaviors stakeholders are seeking when they invest in an event. These changes come not from the moments we capture, but from the moments we are involved in – listening, discussing, reflecting, playing, connecting. This is why legacy-building events work. Whether you choose social, environmental or combination events, you have the power to create a little magic for many. Event designers are now responsible for creating both long-term effects and memorable moments, and we are up for the challenge! What will you add to your next event?
About the Author
After decades of travelling the world to plan, speak, teach, blog and engage in all things events related Tahira Endean, SITE Head of Events, is at the top of her field. A recipient of peer recognition including the Meetings Canada Hall of Fame, Top Five Women in #eventtech, 2016 MeetingsNet ChangeMaker and 2017 Top 20 Canada's Most Fascinating Women in Events, Tahira continues to give back to the industry. She thrives on the chance to harness the power of events to connect people and evolve ideas through unexpected and impactful ways. The article is an excerpt from Tahira’s book Intentional Event Design, Our Professional Opportunity.