With the average worker staying in their job for 4 and a half years, the team at Virgin Incentives has become very passionate about recognising long service milestones. We sat down with Jess Hankers, our Head of Sales at Virgin Incentives, to celebrate her 15 years of service and to look back at how the business and products have evolved over the years.
So, let’s start here, how has the experiences and rewards industry changed in the past 15 years?
When I joined Virgin, the corporate team was in its infant stage and it was a completely different world to what it is now. Rewards were cash bonuses, carriage clocks, watches and the choice was a lot more limited than what it is today. Companies are now looking at reward and recognition as an integral part of their business strategy. Recruiting and retaining talent is an increasing issue in today’s competitive market, so benefits really play a huge part in the appeal of a company. This continues to be high on most companies’ agenda, evolving with the times and ensuring the wellbeing of their employees. The world of gift cards, choices of rewards available and technology has evolved, giving companies a wider and more exciting range to choose from.
The experiences industry has definitely changed, we had a range of 300 experiences when I first started and today, we have 3000+ within the UK. Experience days were high price points, adrenaline fuelled and something you would do on your own from skydiving to driving days to flying lessons. While these are still some of our top selling experiences, what people want to do has changed.
Sharing experiences with loved ones has become more key than ever. People want to do something memorable with someone they care about – Michelin starred dining with your partner, luxury weekends away with the girls, trips to the zoo with the family, afternoon tea with your mum. Experiences are now more about spending time together and having fun.
That’s great. In your time here, how do you think products and experiences have evolved?
Our products have certainly changed with the times. Virgin Experience Days, Virgin Gift Card and Leisure Vouchers have all gone from paper to plastic to digital. We’re always looking out for that next trend or brand fit, allowing our range to grow. It’s great working for a company so agile and innovative. As an example, last year we launched our stay-at-home experiences, these all allow our customers to continue to enjoy experiences while stuck at home.
Definitely. What do you think companies look for in a rewards partner?
The businesses we work with do have different requirements and goals when it comes to implementing a rewards scheme. However, they predominantly look for choice, easy implementation, within a budget and something measurable. We like to be straightforward in the way in which we work. We’re passionate about offering heartfelt service and encouraging companies to reward their customers or employees with something fun, exciting, and memorable. We want them to see our products as a bonus that they get to share with their colleagues, clients, and loved ones.
Which elements do you enjoy the most about your job? Do you have any projects or initiatives you’re particularly looking forward to?
I love working for Virgin Incentives. I am a big advocate that experiences make the best gifts whether it’s for the people you love or your employees. It is great hearing people’s feedback and seeing what experiences people choose to go on. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives continue to grow (and going international), sourcing new partnerships to strengthen our products and how our enhanced technology can make it easier for customers.
Finally, what are some of your favourite experiences? I have been so lucky to do so many experiences over the years but a couple of highlights, A helicopter ride over Silverstone Circuit, driving an Aston Martin on the track, there’s dinner at the Ritz (bought for me by the team for my 30th) and a spa weekend with my sister at Whittlebury Hall.