The Priceless Value of Experiential Rewards

by | February 1, 2018 | Blog

Imagine you’re at this year’s Big Game. The crowd is roaring all around you as you make it to your seat, a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other.

As you and your friend side step your way past jerseys of green, black, white, and blue, you remember the VIP entrance you just came from.

You were able to shake hands with the head coach of your team and take a picture with one of your favorite players. What an unforgettable experience, you think to yourself, and you settle into your seat for the biggest sporting event of the year.

Give Them the Unforgettable

Sounds like a blast, right? Especially because tickets are above $4,000 for the nose bleed seats this week.

So, what would it take to get tickets and a VIP access pass to the pre- and post-game parties? Quite the heap of money, right? But what if you could attend the biggest sporting event in America, no purchase necessary, with a winning draw in an incentive program?

More and more, we’re seeing an increase in “experiential rewards” just like this one: individual rewards in the form of unforgettable experiences that leave a lasting impression on the recipient.

While the above is an example of an above-and-beyond reward, it’s a good example of the feeling of gratification that you can instill in a customer or salesperson. This scale of reward is not the only way to achieve your desired Return on Experience (ROE), however.

A similar result can be achieved on a much smaller scale as well. It’s all about perceived value, and, if executed correctly, that value can be priceless.

Regardless of the extent of the reward, the experience needs to feel genuine, personal, and targeted.


There’s no better way to build disdain for your company than by letting your promises fall through. Ensuring success for your experiential rewards is no exception. Having a team that is equipped to handle the scale of the experience is essential.

With that said, if you decide to reward your people with a special experience, be sure that you can address the following:

  • FAQs: These may seem trivial for a simple promotion, but they can seriously help your phone team, not only to direct calls and help callers understand how to achieve the prize, but also to provide a singular voice.
  • Vendors: Picking the best vendor to create the best experience is a must for experiential rewards. Skimping here can make or break the experience.
  • Travel: If you’re sending people to a remote destination (e.g. the Big Game), make sure travel is the least of their worries. As fun as the event is, a poor travel experience can muddle the memory.
  • Local Teams: Consider creating a local team within your organization for promotions that require travel. If something goes wrong, you’ll want someone on-site to fix it as quickly as possible.

Beyond logistics and ensuring that the experience goes as planned, the recipient needs to feel as if they’ve really earned a valuable reward for the effort they put in. If this is a miss, they won’t feel motivated and you won’t reinforce those desired behaviors.

It can be a thin beam to walk across, but if balanced correctly, your ROE can be exponential.

For instance, let’s say you want a 5% boost in sales performance from your salespeople for next month.

One reward option would be to give each achiever a gift card to a local escape room. That’s alright, but it feels more like suggesting an action rather than enabling it. Instead, make it a corporate event, renting the escape room at a certain time for all achievers and some higher-ups to experience the thrill together.

Now that’s a genuine experience.


Part of the appeal of this kind of individual recognition is the presentation. The more personal that presentation is, the better. Presentation is the beginning of the experience, so much like first impressions, it matters a lot.

Imagine if you let the winner of the VIP pass to the Big Game know they had won with a sticky note that read, “You’re going to Minnesota!”

It would seem like a bad joke. For presentation, delivery is everything.

One tactic that we like to use is the creation of certificates for these rewards. Packaged in a company-branded, professional folder, participants feel a sense of accomplishment when they hold this tangible piece that displays their name, and tells them all about what they’ve achieved and where they’re going.

Another way to put a personal touch on the delivery is to have a principal give the news. Whether it’s handing them one of those tangible awards or sitting them down to personally congratulate them, this kind of delivery can leave a lasting impression and start the experience off the right way.

This personal touch should endure throughout the experience, too, not just during the delivery. Winner announcements can be shared with a wide audience via email blasts and web site postings; memorabilia with a personal touch can also be given at the event.

There are a lot of things that you can do, but mostly, your goal is to help them remember, not just the experience, but who sent them there.


Last but certainly not least, any experiential reward that you put together must be targeted for your audience.

Let’s say you’ve got an idea of who your audience is: middle-aged men located in the New England area. A good start, but you’ll want to do a bit more research to see what they do with their time.

A few surveys later and you find out that they’re outdoorsmen who spend a lot of time with their families. Fishing, hunting, and camping are their activities of choice.

Now, it wouldn’t make that much sense to offer up a singles spa retreat in Florida to these fellas. You probably wouldn’t get too many people signing up and buying in. 

Instead, you’d want to offer them, say, a fishing retreat up in New Hampshire, or a whitewater rafting getaway with fun for the whole family.

Your job is to create a targeted, enticing offer that will attract your audience, and proper research is your best tool for this.

Surveys are a great tactic, and creating targeted questions such as, “Do you have kids?”, “How do you spend your time on the weekends?”, and “Would you enjoy {insert activity}?”, can give you a better idea of who you’re dealing with.

Knowing your audience and making a targeted decision based on what they like can make a world of difference when planning the experience you (and more importantly, they) want.


There are not very many things that can help increase loyalty and motivation more than providing your customers and salespeople with an experience they’ll never forget.

Imagine the conversation that ensues after that customer comes back from the Big Game.

“Did you watch the Big Game last Sunday on TV?” someone asks.

“I was there,” the customer replies.

“No way! How’d you manage that?”

“By being a customer of {Insert your company here}.”

Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash


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