Put Your Safety Harnesses On – Innovation During a Pandemic

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Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

One of the hottest words in 2020 is innovate. Innovation is often born out of crisis and 2020 has been one whopper of a crisis! The “coronacoaster” is taking us all on quite the ride. Businesses most affected are looking for new ways to continue to serve their customers. Educators are finding better ways to engage students online. We all are discovering safer paths to connect with friends and family and continue to enjoy our own little luxuries. Harvard Business School recently wrote about how innovation is the one good thing about COVID-19! You have to look for the positives, right?

Adapting for Safety

The pandemic has hit the travel and hospitality industries especially hard. We at Motivation Excellence are joining our travel partners reimagining how group travel, events and meetings move forward. We’ve seen successes in smaller, local gatherings at places like Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina. Their use of personal dining concierge stations and Plexiglas barriers at rolling beverage bars were just two ways they developed to maintain top-level service while embracing new safety protocols. For more ways the hotel members of Teneo Hospitality Group are innovating for a better and safer guest experience watch our recorded webinar from June here.

One of our event partners Hello! Destination Management has also seen recent small group successes.  Paul Mears, Hello! President, says being innovative in 2020 for his team is more about reimagining creative solutions than inventing totally new ways to do things. For instance, they recently had an event where they used people walking around with trays, but instead of glasses of wine, they were passing out masks and small hand-sanitizers.

“It’s an amenity that is handy, relevant and convenient, served in a way that people at an event are used to seeing: a smiling person, greeting you with a tray and roaming the event space.”

Mears says his team makes sure they understand the client’s visualization of an event and then adapts their resources to fit current safety guidelines. One client who originally wanted their group of 40 to take a yacht out on a bay cruise in San Diego was unable to do so with new group limits on the vessel. Hello! arranged for them to instead do a sailing regatta event using six smaller boats. The client’s vision of being on the water together, with San Diego as the backdrop, was met and the six-seven people on each sailboat were able to collaborate more intimately and enjoy an engaging activity in a socially safer and locally allowed way.

“We understand what they hoped to do and then adjusted to fit the original feel of the event safely. There can be some tradeoffs on things like food and beverage options in this instance, but it can turn out to be an upgrade in overall experience.”

We’ll be talking more in depth with Paul Mears in a live webinar August 27, 2020 at 2pm CST. Register to join us! It will also be recorded and available on the Motivation Excellence Insights Tab by the end of August.

Do More than Survive; Thrive

Many retail stores now offer contactless, curbside pick-up. Restaurants are turning parking lots into outdoor eating spaces. Temperature readings, mask requirements and health/travel screenings are now the norm at many workspaces, doctors’ offices and schools. Businesses that want to survive are making simple adjustments.

Innovation comes in when your business wants to move beyond surviving and into thriving! If you’re able to turn on your heels and head in a new direction the reward can be fantastic. Of course, you’re often walking blindly and spotting the glint of a golden idea can be near impossible. That’s where being flexible and open to trying new things is important. This pandemic has thrust multiple opportunities on all of us to do both! McKinsey & Company asserts innovation is more critical than ever now for businesses to truly prosper going forward.

Personally, for us, we’ve pivoted multiple group travel programs to a virtual gifting experience in 2020. One of our healthcare clients went from a scheduled top performer reward experience in Hawaii to using our concierge shopping option to great success! This client awarded a generous sum to each of their top performers and our personal shopping experts helped them create truly personalized rewards! One person paid her child’s private school tuition, another used their award to put solar panels on their house, and another put a down payment on a Disney-area timeshare! Luxury items like a Louis Vuitton bag and a Gibson electric guitar made our participants extremely appreciative of the ability to pick a reward that they’d never buy themselves! Participant responses to this shift in reward experience were overwhelmingly positive.

“This would be an amazing program to introduce annually. Making it this personal was meaningful.”

– Healthcare client award winner

This is an example of our team being nimble, but even more, it’s an example of our client being open to something new and trusting this very different, but necessary, award vehicle approach. It will pay off with higher engagement with their best employees being shown such appreciation in a time of such uncertainty.

We are also excited to announce a new reward program born out of the pandemic in every way. MaxRewardsNow is a turnkey solution for business leaders to take a step beyond saying “thank you” to their essential employees by putting retail and restaurant gift cards in their hands during a time they probably need it most. Blocks of cards can be purchased in denominations from $25 to $100 and instantly given out as desired to show appreciation during these extraordinary times. A branded website walks recipients through the redemption process and all the cards can be used immediately if the digital option is selected. It’s a low-cost reward program for businesses and highly valued by the recipient.

Keep Moving Forward

This is an obvious time to feel beaten down. Don’t give into the despair! Being innovative is not necessarily an innate skill. According to a barely pre-pandemic article on Forbes.com it can be learned and practiced! Check out their eight steps to improving your innovation.

No matter who you are, you’ve been affected by 2020 in some way. Looking at things in a new light, being flexible and creative in your approach to problems and working together with others in a similar situation are all ways to be innovative during this time. You don’t need to invent the best thing since the iPad to be successful. Sometimes, it’s the small leaps forward solving an immediate problem that carry you forward the farthest. Just keep making those frontward movements and you’ll be on your way to being an innovative force like Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Anyone up for some toast?

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