The art of serendipity

The art of serendipity

Hugo Slimbrouck, specialist in global destination and venue marketing, discusses incentive travel as a business and motivational tool in a post Covid-19 age

How healthy is your human capital post Covid-19? Many industries have suffered from Covid-19 and bringing their people back together will be a major requirement for companies on the road of recovery.

Initially an invention to boost sales, incentive travel has been an established business tool for many years, not only used to reward outperforming channel partners but increasingly also for purposes linked to motivation and engagement, employee satisfaction, teambuilding and loyalty.

Covid-19 has taken its toll on the wellbeing of our business communities. Individuals have become more distant from a common purpose and in some cases working remotely has had an exhausting influence on the mental and physical states of individuals.

We may have saved many hours in traffic. But we also have had to cope with new stress factors such as solving ‘new’ digital challenges, and the insecurity of being furloughed or put on part-time work.

Teams have had ‘Teams’ to help communicate with colleagues and partners, although people of the same team have sometimes not actually been working at the same time. Zoom fatigue, trainees being sent back home and ever more tasks being added have all created pent up needs for a break. Companies should probably be looking at responsible, motivational in person activities again.

Time for a boost
In this recovery period, many personal development and management tools are proving their business case. What better way to motivate organisations than by using travel and event incentives? By creating an incremental revenue, business incentives pay for themselves, so they should not present any budget issue. Now is the right time to use them.

Organisations need energy boosts. Those with a healthy company culture will have the advantage of picking up fast again. Those with cross company learning programmes will not have stopped communication and educating during Covid-19.

Where do we go from here?

First, digital is not going away. A new destination has been put on the global map and its name is ‘Cloud’. Whatever we will do in the future in terms of business events and incentive travel will have a heavy ‘Cloud’ component to it. Pre, during and past the event. The way organisations will have to energise through business events will always be a combination of a destination (local, short haul or long haul) and online.

In the way we bring together colleagues and leadership, the personal connection and teambuilding, the appreciation and connectedness will require coming together in the real world. It is the only way that really works, and the past year only proves that.

Now is the time to build trust again by communicating and merging valuable contributions with trust in the organisation. Why? Because it is time to boost common goals and values again with personal initiatives, drive, and competitiveness. Job satisfaction and loyalty need to be rewarded and motivated.

Just as families have been feeling the need to travel again, breathe a different air, eat the local food and enjoy the visual eye candy of a destination, the same is true for the meetings and incentive industry. Engaging audiences, either digitally or physically will remain an important task for any organisation. Most likely, these audiences will be more local or regional than previously. But smaller ‘live’ audiences will be complemented by larger ‘online’ participation which creates new opportunities.

In an interview with the Swiss Convention Bureau, Sebastien Tondeur, CEO of the MCI Group stated: “What is certain is that post Covid-19, 10% of our professions will disappear and 100% of our jobs will be different from what they used to be”.


I have always found ‘Dépaysement’ to be a beautiful word in the French language; it means more than just its literal translation in English of ‘change of scenery’. We need to go away to focus, to absorb, to energise, to reward dedication and, most of all, to let serendipity play its beneficial role. Going to inspiring places with different people who are willing to exchange their interests, their knowledge, and share their dreams, will create just those kind of moments of serendipity that benefit both themselves and their organisations.

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