by Alex Palmer | January 22, 2016

Incentive house ICP Group SA was charged with creating a travel reward program to drive the performance of Warsaw, Poland-based pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Poland. Setting their sights on Croatia, the incentive house sought to create a themed event that participants would not soon forget -- and looked for inspiration to Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow. The creative thinking and success of the companies' "Croatia Under the Pirate Flag" program earned it this year's Motivation Master Award in the category of Recogniton.

Over five days in September 2014, Astellas Pharma treated 180 of its top performers -- in both sales and non-sales roles -- to a luxury trip in Croatia. Seeking a way to integrate into this memorable destination the client's company values of team- and result-orientation, openness, enthusiasm, and mutual respect, ICP saw potential in the theme of a loyal pirate crew.

Dubbed "Croatia Under the Pirate Flag," the program emphasized that each team member has important roles to play on a ship. 

"Our task was to deliver 'wow' effect," explains Valeria Koshel, junior account executive for ICP Group SA. "Every detail of the incentive was considered: menu and satisfaction surveys designs, bus branding, staff uniform -- everything reflected the single concept."

That meant activities like sailing a ship decked out like a pirate vessel, with the stunning Croatian backdrop as scenery. The Admiral Grand Slano, where the group stayed, hung Jolly Roger flags and staff wore "Pirate Crew" pins. Attendees were treated to a gala dinner fit for a captain at the exclusive Lovrijenac Fortress, a fortress and theater in Dubrovnik rarely made available for such gatherings. 

"[Astellas] sought a motivational program together with team-building, but first of all they wanted to see the concept that would allow to engage all participants," says Hanna Chechlacz, project manager for ICP Group SA. "At the same time we had to ensure that their corporate values were clearly communicated."

The trip in full swing
Aiming to maximize the impact of the trip, ICP also worked to raise excitement about the trip before and after the event itself. All the pre-trip materials also emphasized the pirate theme, with a group of actors dressed up as pirates (complete with parrot) inviting the winners to the trip, and later receiving "Keep Calm and Be a Pirate" postcards along with several stylized newsletters. 

Beyond creating a fun and memorable trip (in which ICP succeeded, with a 96 percent satisfaction response in post-event surveys) sales results also spoke volumes, with participants exceeding their sales targets by 30 percent, and 98 percent of participants in the 2014 event taking part in the 2015 campaign (a trip to Madera). 

This high level of satisfaction from the client was in some ways not surprising, since Astellas Pharma has partnered with ICP Group on its incentive efforts for the past 10 years. 

"Our client has always been setting very high standards, especially in terms of looking after its employees," says Krzysztof Michniewicz, CEO of ICP Group. "With exquisite human resources management and overall company policy and standards, Astellas Pharma is clear on the message that people are the most important asset. This is how they set their expectations to a company like ours: to deliver only the best and to the best.

"This decade of continuous, uninterrupted cooperation is in itself, in my opinion, a proof of our successful delivery," he adds. "The multitude of our projects, ideas and all the concepts that we roll out - simply work for the client. We are really delighted to say that the satisfaction level among the employees is well over 90 percent."

This successful partnership and impressive results are why ICP and Astellas are this year's Motivation Masters, Recognition winner.