Newcomers to the incentive industry or those just looking to sharpen their skills are often unaware of the resources available to them, as recent research from the Incentive Research Foundation has made clear. To help them leverage the wealth of tools available to them and get solid advice on how to develop their reward-travel programs, Maritz Global Events has launched an online community and support platform for program managers.
Called PX Exchange, the platform offers on-demand resources (checklists, best practices, insights) and access to industry veterans, as well as special offers and networking opportunities. The subscription-based community (available at two levels: Foundations and Premier) aims to fill a gap in the industry, allowing incentive planners to raise their game.
"At some level, we've always known that there is a significant opportunity to provide incentive-program support to companies that currently manage their programs in-house," said Chris Galloway, general manager of PX Exchange. "That was especially true with companies offering a trip to incentive program winners, where the planner essentially manages the program as one project among many other responsibilities."
Galloway said the key question he and the team at Maritz asked in developing the program was, "how can we help these individuals do their job better, and improve their programs over time?" Rather than just providing a social media platform or networking area, they determined that it needed to be "actively curated, organized, and include access to the learnings and services of industry pros as well."
Among the resources available to members of PX Exchange (the "PX" stands for "program experience") is a library of downloadable tools that include program planning checklists, budget templates and best practices, all segmented into categories such as travel-experience design, contest rules and ROI, and several others. Members also are able to access a list of "benefits," which can be purchased a la carte from third-party providers. "For example, if they are looking for innovative ideas in gift experiences for the travel program, they can link directly to a site built just for PX Exchange members to research and purchase gifts, but that happens outside of PX Exchange and directly with the third party," noted Galloway.
Members also have on-demand access to a panel of experts (both from Maritz and elsewhere) to whom they can pose specific questions about their programs or challenges they are facing. This can be in a public forum or privately through PX Exchange's messaging tool.
The idea for PX Exchange grew out of an awareness, backed up by research from the IRF as well as Maritz' own market study, that planners managing their company's incentive programs are eager for ideas and insights into how to make them work better. Galloway emphasized that it aims to serve the industry as a whole.
"We believe in the value of community and in our responsibility as stewards of the incentives industry," said Galloway. "Inherent in that belief is that Maritz is not the gatekeeper for all good ideas, and in fact we are striving to maintain an independent viewpoint. PX Exchange will not be defined by a 'Maritz-only' way of thinking, but instead will put a heavy weight on the experiences of members and non-Maritz advisors as well."