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November 26, 2006
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VENUE vs BRAND: Mercedes? goes smart in Miami




Now a key player in the UK automotive market, smart, part of the Mercedes Car Group (and ultimately DaimlerChrysler) possesses a strong brand image that is innovative, individual, fun and contemporary. With smart, customers buy an image, not just a car.

The year 2004 presented opportunities and challenges for the smart sales network, facing higher targets backed with the mission of providing the very best brand experience. To address this, along with the aim of retaining top performers, a staff sales incentive scheme was developed.

“The ‘quick smart’ programme for the brand’s sales operations managers, sales managers and executives was smart’s first travel incentive programme. As a result, being exciting and having a real ‘wow’ factor were a must, as well as delivering results,” says Melanie Hyde, events design director at live marketing agency BI, which organised the event. “The programme culminated in a grand-finale in the form of an action-packed, luxurious and thrilling trip to the buzzing city of Miami, USA, for the first quarter’s top performers.”



The staff age group (20 to 35) and the importance of networking within smart were taken into account in the programme development. The campaign had to be fun, exciting, easily understandable and meaningful, and have strong ‘on brand’ communication. The city of Miami, and the activities arranged, not only perfectly fitted the brand image of smart, but also the demographic of the participants.  

“Miami has a young, lively, 24-hour party atmosphere offering a cool cultural image and an abundance of thrilling activities,” explains Hyde. “The trip’s programme allowed the guests to remain together as a group – staying in the same hotel and experiencing the activities together – providing the ideal platform to encourage networking. There was also a ‘Ring In & Win’ voucher scheme that provided instant wins for the executives, creating excitement and motivation. Along with the ultimate prize of a three-day luxurious trip of a lifetime, this delivered the key motivating factor to alter behaviour to increase sales.”

Participants were able to stay in the heart Miami, with all the luxuries and activities BI had planned for them right on their doorstep. However, the careful selection of the stylish but inexpensive National Hotel avoided the high cost usually associated with central locations.

“The National fitted the audience profile in that it was an Art Deco, boutique hotel in the ideal location, just off Ocean Drive, Miami’s ‘in place’,” explains Hyde. “It also meant more of the budget could be used for the action-packed itinerary to create a highly memorable experience. Miami offers the high-life, style and all the mod-cons that any fashion-conscious, cool smart representative would desire.”

Employees were given the experience of a lifetime right from the start, the luxury and attention to detail beginning at Heathrow airport with chauffeur parking.

“Virgin Airlines made an in-flight announcement to personally welcome the smart team on board, and they were transported to the hotel in limousines when they arrived in Miami,” recalls Hyde.  

Results of the programme were extremely positive, with staff turnover being reduced by 50% and sales increasing. Incentive programmes for the second and third quarters followed.



Quick smart’s Miami itinery

Daytime activities
• Motor yacht cruise, with champagne, swimming and partying. During the trip the yacht moored outside J-Lo’s beachfront home!
• Road trip in ‘on brand’ convertible Chrysler Sebrings (a group product experience), cruising up Ocean Drive.
• A ‘back to nature’ experience – swimming with dolphins.
• A high-adrenaline trip up the Everglades in airboats.
• Free time to sample the Bayside marketplace, taking in Cuban food, local artists and live music.

Evening entertainment:
• First evening – dining at the funky Touch Restaurant with live performances and Karaoke.
• Second evening – soaking up the sounds, tastes and rhythms of Cuba in the heart of Miami’s ‘Little Havana’, with salsa dancing lessons before dinner at Hoy Como Ayer.
• Last night – dining at the cool Pearl restaurant and Nikki Beach club, with champagne, cocktails and dancing until the early hours.


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