2013 SITE Crystal Award Recipient
Exceptional Motivational Travel Program – Best in Class by Global Region – Africa/Middle East
De Feest - & Eventarchitect
The success of De Feest - & Eventarchitect’s May 2012 trip to Sun City, South Africa, for its client in the steel industry depended on the incentive house’s ability to create individualized experiences for 800 guests while also hosting celebratory events for the group as a whole.
Personalization for 800 Guests
From the start, executing a trip from Europe to South Africa for more than 800 people posed challenges. Not only did the size of the group require close cooperation with South African Airways for the flights, but once on the ground in South Africa, guests had to move seamlessly between self-selected morning adventures and common experiences with the entire group in the afternoons and evenings. The solution was a custom badge for each individual that showed the guest’s personal program, from bus number to hotel and room number; excursion selections to game drive jeep number; even the guest’s table number for the gala dinner. With this tool, hosts, guides and drivers could make sure guests were in the right place at the right time.
An Authentic Experience
Such behind-the-scenes planning produced for the client’s employees a trip that both rewarded the employees for their service and celebrated their destination. Guests were welcomed to Sun City by a beat on the gong by the Zulu king, starting the trip with a literal bang. Over the next two days, they explored the landscape with small-group outings to meet lions, cheetahs, elephants and crocodiles; play golf; or visit a spa; then came back together in the afternoons.
On day two of the trip, the group activity was a game drive in Pilanesberg National Park that required more than 50 jeeps and was followed by a surprise dinner in the bush. Through consultation with the local government and park management, De Feest - & Eventarchitect had secured a suitable location in the middle of the game reserve to build the camp for dinner – just meters from where herds of elephants roamed. Further away, at more than five kilometers’ distance, were the gate to the park and the nearest facilities. The location provided the ultimate bush experience for guests, even while creating barriers for meal planning and the creation of the venue. As part of the requirements to secure the space, the incentive house had to create an emergency and evacuation plan, ensure the safety of the guests with more than 40 armed rangers, and arrange to clean the location and leave the national park just as they had found it.
The next evening’s gala dinner in the Sun City Superbowl was another custom event, this time with more fanfare. Entertainment included an original movie and laser show, a performance of “Afrikan Dream” by Vicky Sampson, and traditional gumboot dancing. Because gumboot dancing originated in the often-flooded gold mines of South Africa, De Feest - & Eventarchitect arranged for the act to perform in water for the first time ever – and created a great success.
The group’s final outing left behind the bush and their host resort and took guests into the urban Soweto, an area of Johannesburg. Initially considered an impossibility due to the lack of space for all 800 guests to have lunch together, the group visit happened when De Feest - & Eventarchitect found a school to host the lunch, invited the students to perform. It was the first time that such a large group had visited the school.
A Wise Investment
The business results are a testament to the value of the hard work De Feest - & Eventarchitect put into the program. Since the client began organizing incentive trips 25 years ago, employee turnover has decreased from 10 to 2.3 percent. With a company of more than 450 employees, the investment of €2 million for an incentive trip every five years (or €400,000 per year) saves the company approximately €457,000 each year in recruitment and training of new employees.
Beyond the numbers, employee attitudes show the value of these incentives. Even in the busiest times, employees demonstrate great company loyalty and a willingness to work hard. Employees are proud to work for the company, and a heritage of multiple family members joining the company has developed.