by Leo Jakobson | October 13, 2016
Engagement solutions firm ITA Group has unveiled a new incentive travel platform focused on aligning the program with company goals and strategy, and measuring the results in depth, rather than just the "wow" factor of the destination.

The Optim: Incentive Travel Solutions platform is "a more intelligent, strategic approach to creating a significant lift in engagement through incentive travel," says Jill Anonson (pictured), events solution manager for West Des Moines, IA-based ITA Group. "Companies need to take a hard look at what they are doing and determine if their investment is helping them achieve their goals. Optim propels organizations beyond the status quo and delivers quantifiable advantages for companies, partners and employees."

An Optim program starts with a detailed measurement and assessment of where the firm is and where it wants to be after the incentive program. To this end, qualitative and quantitative metrics are taken throughout the program qualification period and the trip itself. This helps ITA Group design the best incentive travel program possible.

Optim incorporates strong communications via a simple and user-friendly website designed to keep participants engaged throughout the program qualification period. Tools include leaderboards, badges, emails, videos, and brochures. In addition, the executives overseeing the incentive program can monitor ongoing results of the entire program, as well as individual participants' performance.  

Ultimately, a major aim of the Optim solution is making sure that the incentive trip is as motivating as possible, so it is planned "with the company's unique business objectives and audience demographic mix in mind," says Sarah Haines, ITA Group's vice president of event management. 

Five types of qualitative and quantitative metrics are measured throughout the program's life, with an eye to both the current and future programs. These are:

* Management metrics, including negotiated cost savings, delivery and timeliness
* Engagement metrics, including communications response and trip experience
* Behavior metrics, including sales, sharing and education
* Impact metrics, including revenues, profits, market share and brand awareness
* Value metrics, including return on investment (ROI) and value on investment (VOI)

With all of the "participants engaged, the travel experience reverberates long after the trip is over," Haines adds.