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Push For Humanitarian Incentives

By Gwen OToole

Incentive travel planners have a responsibility to promote best-practice environmental and humanitarian components for conferences and travel incentives, according to a leading Australian performance and incentive company.

Solterbeck executive chairwoman, Sue Jackson, said most large companies are failing to consider sustainability practices in their incentive and recognition offerings, despite strong commitments to corporate social responsibility values.

“There are a few notable exceptions, but by and large most companies are either not aware of opportunities in this area or it’s something that’s been put in the too-hard basket,” she said. “We think it’s an area the incentive travel industry needs to assume leadership in, and proactively explain to companies what the options are and what going down this path can deliver back to a business and to program participants.”

Jackson said humanitarian travel experiences, in particular, offered opportunities to visibly align an important reward tool with business values and responsibilities, and in addition, deliver on the goal of providing lifetime memories to program participants.

“We go into countries and villages, use their natural surrounds, culture and attractions for our own purpose, but when we leave what have we given back? The issue companies need to start considering is, do you spend $50,000 on fireworks for a gala dinner at a conference, or do you invest that money in, say, building much-needed village infrastructure, at the same time offering an experience to participants that provides opportunities for reflection, contribution and increased awareness and understanding.

“Given current global economic challenges it’s a small but very worthwhile step in moving traditional conferencing to a more relevant positioning,” she said.

Based in Melbourne, Solterbeck has more than 30 clients amongst Australia’s top companies. Over 50,000 people in a dozen countries participate annually in its programs, and its work has been recognised with many local and international industry awards