What's Hot, How-to

Pulse Experiential Travel Leads Way in Promoting Reward Experience

Marc Matthews was one of the first in the rewards and recognition industry to recognize the value of experiences as incentives, rewards, recognition and gifts. RRN recently checked in with Matthews to see how the increasing focus on experiences is affecting his business. 
RRN: Do you believe there's more acceptance of the importance of the reward experience than in the past?  
Matthews: As the IRF confirms in its research, experiences are gaining in popularity. How a reward is presented and received is important, but just as important is the question: It the reward itself an experience? We know that Millennials and younger audiences are avid travelers, and they aren’t passive about it; they want to actively participate in the experience.
RRN: Do you think the corporate end-user is increasingly getting it? 
Matthews: We sure hope so. There's enough validation now that cash or cash equivalents by themselves are not enough to have an emotional impact on people over the long-haul. When companies thoughtfully select the rewards for their top performers (ideally with input from the participant audience), when participants clearly understand what is required of them to achieve the reward and are given the tools to do what’s asked of them, companies see remarkable results. Companies can also reinforce their own brand attributes and marketing messages by choosing rewards and experiences from appropriately matched brand partners. 
RRN: What do you think is driving this change? 
Matthews: In the “old days” company leaders felt that incentive, reward and recognition programs were nice to have, but they didn’t have definitive research to prove it or to present to top management. Today we can prove the potential results through case studies and research that the IRF and other organizations provide. Reward and recognition programs are critical components of an Enterprise Engagement strategy. Business leaders increasingly expect their engagement investment to provide tangible results – financial and otherwise (such as customer satisfaction scores, reduced turnover and absenteeism, etc.), so there's some increased attention on these programs as a means to achieving higher engagement levels.
RRN: How have you seen the marketplace change?
Matthews: I’ve been around a long time, so yes, I’ve seen some changes. In the incentive marketplace in general, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club and similar providers considerably disrupted the brand-name merchandise marketplace. The good news is that it has opened the door for brands and other suppliers to add value and provide more than the product-in-a-generic-box. From a travel perspective, the consumer has moved from travel agents to do-it-yourself online travel options. People can book their own flights and hotels, choose their own seats and rooms, etc. Even companies with departments that handle business travel are now leaving many of these travel details to the employee. This presents a terrific opportunity for employers to offer a reward experience that the employee or participant wouldn't be able to have on their own...an experience in which everything is handled for them and they don’t have to make their own arrangements. 
One example is The Masters Golf Tournament—tickets are by lottery only, accommodations are very difficult to get. Our relationship with the Masters goes back many years and we can offer a company’s top performers a truly memorable experience. Another example would be our verified Ticketmaster option. Companies offering a selection of reward options can now incorporate a Ticketmaster feed into their program – or they can simply offer this as a service or reward to their employees and partners. Verified tickets mean that these are not third-party tickets that may have someone else’s name on them; the are tickets are verified by Ticketmaster and issued directly to the recipient.  
RRN: What are the most popular offerings at Pulse? 
Matthews: Part of what makes Pulse unique is our ability to procure tickets to award shows. Hands down, our most popular event is the Country Music Awards (CMA) show. For sports, the Masters Golf Tournament and the Kentucky Derby are equally popular -- the Masters because it’s so exclusive (very difficult to source tickets and get access to the grounds) and it’s every golfer’s dream to attend the event. The Derby is popular because ladies in particular love the ponies and, with horse farm tours we include in our package, the event is a winning experience. In terms of simple experiential packages, our California Wine Tour packages are particularly popular.
RRN: What trends are you seeing in redemptions in terms of travel categories? 
Matthews: Adventure travel and experiences are gaining in popularity, both with Baby Boomers who may have waited to travel and with Millennials and younger audiences who want those experiences now. As companies look for rewards that offer a unique experience, travel makes sense in that it is memorable (so it’s great for the company), and it’s good for the employee. The trip is more than a reward; it can reenergize them, expose them to new cultures and new ideas, and it’s just fun. Partnering with a professional firm that can offer these unique experiences takes the work and worry out of the process.
Marc Matthews
(202) 345-2474  
[return to top]


Master the Principles of Enterprise Engagement to Achieve Organizational Goals and Enhance Your Career
  • Profit from a new systematic approach to engagement to enhance your organization’s brand equity; increase sales, productivity, quality, innovation, and safety, and reduce risks.
  • Achieve ISO 10018 Quality People Management Certification to demonstrate your organization’s strategic commitment to people to your customers, employees, distribution partners, vendors, communities, investors, and regulators.
Live Education: Enterprise Engagement in Action Conference at Engagement World, April 3, 2019, in San Francisco, in conjunction with the Selling Power Sales 3.0 Conference. Learn about the economics, framework, and implementation process for an ISO certifiable approach to achieving organizational objectives by strategically fostering the proactive involvement of all stakeholders. Learn more and register now.   

In Print: Enterprise Engagement: The Roadmap 4th Edition, How to Achieve Organizational Results Through People and Quality for ISO 10018 Certification. 
The first and most comprehensive book on Enterprise Engagement and the new ISO 9001 and ISO 10018 quality people management standards. 
Online: The Enterprise Engagement Academy at EEA.tmlu.org, providing the only formal training on Enterprise Engagement and the new ISO 9001 and ISO 10018 quality people management standards. Provides preparation for professionals to support organizations seeking ISO 10018 employer or solution provider certification, as well as elective courses on Trade Show Engagement, Rewards and Recognition, Government, and other topics. 
Plus: 10-minute short course: click here for a 10-minute introduction to Enterprise Engagement and ISO standards on Coggno.com.
Services: The International Center for Enterprise Engagement at TheICEE.org, offering: ISO 10018 certification for employers, solution providers, and Enterprise Engagement technology platforms; Human Resources and Human Capital audits for organizations seeking to benchmark their practices and related Advisory services for the hospitality field.
The Engagement Agency at EngagementAgency.net, offering: complete support services for employers, solution providers, and technology firms seeking to profit from formal engagement practices for themselves or their clients, including Brand and Capability audits for solution providers to make sure their products and services are up to date.
C-Suite Advisory Service—Education of boards, investors, and C-suite executives on the economics, framework, and implementation processes of Enterprise Engagement. 
Speakers Bureau—Select the right speaker on any aspect of engagement for your next event.
Mergers and Acquisitions. The Engagement Agency’s Mergers and Acquisition group is aware of multiple companies seeking to purchase firms in the engagement field. Contact Michael Mazer in confidence if your company is potentially for sale at 303-320-3777. 
Enterprise Engagement Benchmark Tools: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance offers three tools to help organizations profit from Engagement. Click here to access the tools.
• ROI of Engagement Calculator. Use this tool to determine the potential return-on-investment of an engagement strategy. 
• EE Benchmark Indicator. Confidentially benchmark your organization’s Enterprise Engagement practices against organizations and best practices. 
• Compare Your Company’s Level of Engagement. Quickly compare your organization’s level of engagement to those of others based on the same criteria as the EEA’s Engaged Company Stock Index.
• Gauge Your Personal Level of Engagement. This survey, donated by Horsepower, enables individuals to gauge their own personal levels of engagement.
For more information, contact Bruce Bolger at Bolger@TheEEA.org, 914-591-7600, ext. 230.
[return to top]
Earn Big $ In EEA Referral Program
Brand Media Resources
EME Gold
Brand Resources
  • Omaha Steaks
  • Instant Pot
  • 1-800-flowers
  • Luxury Brands
  • Mont Blanc
  • Partners for Incentives
  • Ray Ban
  • TaylorMade
  • GoPro
  • Yeti