Rules of Engagement

The Incentive Rewards & Recognition Show returns to the Big Apple with a most engaging agenda.

The string of bad news coming out of New York City in the past year—from Eliot Spitzer's sockladen rendezvous to the domino effect of a failing Bear Stearns to Bernard Madoff and his minions of mini-Madoffs— may make the megalopolis seem more like the notorious Gotham City of the '20s and '30s than the gentrified clean streets of Sex and the City. However, despite the overnight return to its grainy, corrupt past, the city may be one of the only places that can get the nation out of the recession. Companies are tightening their purse strings, cutting everything from office supplies to their workforce, and employees are going to work fearing they may be next on the chopping block.

Loss of job security not only dampens company morale, but also can lower production. This year, the New York Incentive Rewards & Recognition Show, taking place May 12-13, goes back to the basics with an emphasis on engagement, which focuses on building one-on-one relationships with someone on every level of a business, from customers to employees.

For the third year in a row, the New York Hilton will house the show, which will feature more than 80 exhibitors. Human Capital Institute, the Business Marketing Association, marketing experts Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, and 1to1® magazine have teamed up to head an educational program focusing on enterprise engagement.

The objective this year is to help management learn and discuss new ways of aligning strategies across an entire organization to develop and retain relationships. "Engagement will get us out of this [economic] mess," says conference director Bruce Bolger, adding that the return to the basics of developing tighter contacts inside and outside the company can help corporations bounce back quicker.

Back to Basics

The show's 10 seminars will include sessions on economics and the drivers of loyalty and word-of-mouth; why talent management is more critical than ever before; making the profitable connection between your brand and your people; and how to structure engagement strategies whose costs are tied directly to results.

Allan Schweyer, HCI's senior vice president of research, will kick off the conference with "ROE: Return on Engagement," which will provide sales, marketing, and human resources personnel with data they can use to better understand how engagement affects the bottom line. He also will share preliminary results of a new study in the economics of engagement conducted by the company's Enterprise Engagement Research Practice Area.

Michelle Smith, vice president of Business Development for O.C. Tanner and president of the Incentive Marketing Association, will present "The Compelling Economics of Incentive Programs," which will focus on how organizations can revamp traditional incentive programs into performance improvement programs with a cost structure that is tied to results.

Peppers, 1to1 Media founder, will demonstrate how engagement provides organizations with an advantage during tough economic times in "Customer Engagement: The Competitive Edge." In this session, he identifies the key drivers of customer engagement in the 21st Century. Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO and chief creative officer of the Kaplan Thaler Group, will explain how the "Power of Nice" and the "Power of Small" can improve employee motivation in "Intrinsic Motivation: Unlocking the Inner Spirit of Your People."

The conference will end with a panel discussion on engagement technology. The panel includes Mike Hoffman, director of business development, RI Communications; Mike Arvelo, vice president of Paramax Productions; and Bruce Bolger, president of Solata Technologies. Ira Ozer, principal of Motivation Partners Inc., will moderate.

Attendees can stop by the Brand Products Gallery to catch the latest products and services from popular brands that include Bulova, Sony, and Kate Spade. While there, they can vote for their favorite products to be 2009s BPG winners.

Sights & the City

Conference goers shouldn't pass up the opportunity of being in the heart of midtown Manhattan. The New York Hilton is located inside the historic Radio City Music Hall & Rockefeller Center and is a stone's throw from great Fifth Avenue shopping, the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park, and Carnegie Hall.

For those looking for great cuisine but unwilling to venture too far, the Hilton's Etrusca restaurant serves dinner from 5:30 to 11 p.m. nightly. The hotel also features a marketplace with a menu that refl ects the diversity of the city. Offerings include an American breakfast buffet, Japanese breakfast buffet, and an international lunch buffet. The Bridges bar, homage to Manhattan's Seven Bridges, is open until 1 a.m.

Show hours for the conference are:
Wednesday, May 12: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday, May 13: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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