Why People Prefer Experiential Rewards

by | Mar 29, 2019 | Blog

Does anyone else have a friend or co-worker who has a completely different personality between different ways of communicating? I have this one friend who is so talkative and puts a lot of detail into his verbiage and stories while we’re talking in person. When we’re texting, though, he’s almost rude in how short he is.

When my friends and I asked him about it one time and he said, “You know, my girlfriend said the same thing. I just hate texting.”

So naturally, when I saw this recent survey by Axios that found that, on average, 42% of Americans prefer in-person interaction to any other form of communication it made a lot of sense in the moment. According to the survey, 21% of people prefer texting followed by 16% preferring phone calls, 15% for email, 2% for social media, and video chat in dead last with 1%.

Not only was this a bit of a fulfilled prophecy for me personally, but it also got me thinking about our clients and the how they run their businesses and reward their top people with experiential rewards. These results bode really well for us and those business relationships. Here’s why…

Building Relationships

As a business, it’s important to constantly try to cut costs and increase efficiencies. The digital transformation has made this much easier in many instances. Now we can automate a monthly blog email or run an algorithm to improve the efficiency of a production line or use digital insights to pin point the buying behaviors of our customers.

Often times, one of the hardest costs to cut down and even to track is a soft cost: how much time our employees take on certain tasks like when our sales reps follow up with top customers or prospects. One easy way to quell this cost is through marketing automation.

By limiting the amount of time per day that sales reps are following up with big ticket leads, we can more effectively use our time while, in some cases, even shortening the sales cycle. However, as much as automation can make everyone’s lives so much easier, it’s clear based on these results that solely email-based automation may not be the perfect avenue when it comes to interaction and relationship building.

So much of what we do relies on trust and building credibility with our customers and based on this survey, that trust may be better earned with in-person interaction. So, a healthy mix of the two may be just what you’re looking for. This is especially important for manufacturers trying to acquire more customers and distributors trying to maintain their top customers.

One great way of enacting this strategy is through forums. Often conducted with a small group of people, maybe a dozen or two, forums can be a great way to interact with your customers, prospects, and partners in a helpful, genuine way.

I’d suggest covering a topic you know is near and dear to your audience’s heart. Make sure to approach the topic in a credible and authentic way. You can start the event by presenting the idea, but after it’s important to open the floor to your attendees. Remember, you’re hosting the event to help them become better business people and they’re there to learn from you and others.

After the event, blend in your marketing automation by sending them articles and other content relative to the topic. Spice it up with some direct sale follow up regarding something fun or cool that happened during the event. Finding that perfect balance of in-person and digital can have huge benefits for your sales cycle and business as a whole.

Experiential Rewards

In late 2018, the Incentive Research Foundation projected that budgets for incentive travel will increase in 2019. Why? Because while gift cards and merchandise are growing alongside general incentives, there is a new blossoming trend of experiential rewards.

More and more, people are starting to lean toward rewards that grant them with long-lasting memories. These memories could come from a concert, sporting event, a meeting abroad, or a trip to a city they’ve never seen before. And as these findings suggest, when your company is capable of creating these memories for your customers, sales people, or channel partners and include their family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers with similar interests, like SnapApp did for me, the result is an unrivaled brand loyalty.

Times Are A Changin’

While it’s clear that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials all prefer in-person interaction, an important group to keep an eye out for in the future is Gen Z, or today’s teens. While their entrance into the business world is still a way off, it’s interesting to think of how these findings might change as time progresses and those who grew up in front of screens would answer these same questions.

According to a separate survey, people under the age of 17 actually prefer texting to in-person interaction. In fact, it looks like in-person interaction took a nosedive from 49% in 2012 to 32% in 2018 and is now losing to texting by 3%. This isn’t a huge percentage, but it brings up a weird combination of emotion akin to watching an episode of Black Mirror.

Creepy TV shows aside, the next question is, as these teens grow up, will their preferences change as they mature, allowing us to fall back on our classic mixed bag of business interactions, or will they continue to pursue text-based interaction?

Only time will tell, but a smart business owner may want to look at a 5- 10-year plan and start thinking about adding in some kind of adjustments as this group moves into the workforce. Everyone remembers how much of a stir us millennials made, right? Chaos.


Something I think that is important to point out for this article is that if you look at the numbers the other way around, you may get a different conclusion. 42% of Americans prefer in-person interaction, but 55% (the combine percentage of those who answered differently) chose the other methods.

It’s important to bring up here at the end because it helps to solidify my point about building relationships. Human beings are phenomenal in how different we all are from each other. This very fact is the reason why we recommend a multi-channel approach to relationship building and rewarding: one method might just resonate more with a given group than another.

It’s also why I tend to pick up the phone and call that one friend instead of texting him.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can accommodate different groups on the same incentive trip, read here.



Photo by Samuel Wong on Unsplash





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