Meet the 2022 Motivation Masters Award Winners

Four companies — Alline Salon Group, Anheuser-Busch, Avaya and Google Cloud — delivered award-worthy incentive and recognition programs in sync with today’s corporate business needs.


With companies struggling to hang onto current staff and fill vacant positions, while handling continuing pandemic challenges, it’s crucial for organizations to reward and recognize stressed and stretched individuals for their superhero efforts. The extraordinary programs that won Incentive’s annual Motivation Masters Awards, which took place between June 2021 and June 2022, addressed these very real business concerns in ingenious ways. 

This year, we’ve updated our awards to keep up with the times. We’ve added a new category — reward-travel experience — to honor the inventiveness and attention to detail that are inherent in the best travel programs. Also, to reflect how companies have been expanding their incentive programs to reward individuals and/or teams outside sales that are contributing to an organization’s success, the sales program category has been renamed the employee program category. The recognition and dealer/channel categories are unchanged.

While the companies honored are new to the Motivation Masters Awards, the incentive firms who crafted their programs are not: All are previous Motivation Masters honorees.

Let’s celebrate the four winning Motivation Masters of 2022 and the best-in-class incentive professionals responsible for creating and running them.


Best Reward-Travel Experience

ITA Group and Google Cloud

For 2022, Google Cloud decided to split its single annual incentive program into four regional programs in order to make the trips more personal. Each of the programs was held in a destination where winners — which included both sales and nonsales employees — would experience a once-in-a-lifetime travel reward close to home. 

For the 130 top performers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, their well-deserved reward was a magnifico esperienza in Puglia — an under-the-radar region of southern Italy that has gained status in recent years.

Every aspect of this five-day, four-night travel experience, held in April 2022, melded the authentic culture of the destination with custom touches: At the stunning host property — Borgo Egnazia in the charming town of Savelletri di Fasano — the Google Cloud logo appeared everywhere, including on the pool; on personalized, embroidered pillowcases; and even carved into the resort's hedges. 

During the day, participants relaxed in the sunshine, shopped in town and explored the countryside; the evening events were reserved for spectacular group celebrations. 

Participants were welcomed the first evening with a replica of a Puglian town fair, complete with local tarantella and pizzica musicians and dancers, regional cuisine and décor, local artisans, and street performers. 

Arriving at the Festa della Moda celebration on the second evening, guests ran a gantlet of "paparazzi" flashbulbs before entering an arena bursting with floral décor. Live music on a center stage, plus a 360-degree rotating, in-air piano player, entertained the winners. A surprise drone show congratulated the group. 

On the final night, guests were taken off-property to a masseria (an old Apulian farmhouse), and were greeted outdoors with human water fountains, flower-adorned cyclists, violinists and more. Adding to the fun, winners were treated to a shopping extravaganza for local gifts from a Puglian pop-up shop.

The winners said they were delighted with the immersive experience. According to the post-event surveys, one participant said it was "the best event I've attended in my professional life," while another lauded it for exceeding their expectations "by miles and miles."



Best Employee Program

Augeo Affinity Marketing and Anheuser-Busch

Like many companies, Anheuser-Busch has experienced staffing and retention challenges at its breweries. With an immediate goal of motivating employees to volunteer for weekend shifts at 12 locations, the beer giant launched an incentive program — its first to target a group of employees who hadn't had many incentive opportunities to connect, engage and be rewarded. 

Brew More, Play More ran from July 2021 to August 2021. The gamified digital contest, developed by Augeo, offered rewards to encourage the workers to sign up for the weekend shifts immediately and ultimately to help drive sales. Through the program's platform, winners could spin a digital wheel to get gift cards, event tickets, experiences and even a $5,000 travel reward. Integrated leaderboards encouraged friendly competition and drove participation. The rewards were tailored to each location. Marketing materials included QR codes that took employees to the platform, allowing them to use their mobile devices for quick and convenient access. 

The program was designed to be reworked and customized to meet the future needs of Anheuser-Busch's incentive programs. The results of Brew More, Play More were impressive: 55 percent of participants signed up for an average of two overtime shifts each; 74 percent made "spins" during the four-month program and 91 percent redeemed their rewards. 


Best Dealer/Channel Program

Brightspot Incentives & Events and Avaya

To reward Avaya's top-performing partners in 78 countries, Brightspot Incentives & Events developed the Avaya Edge Loyalty Program. Aiming to boost global sales at the business-communications company, the program targeted three groups of participants: partner principles who are authorized resellers of the company's products and services; account managers who work for the partners, selling Avaya products and services; and sales engineers who support clients with their technical knowledge.

The partner principles were required to enroll in the program before their employees could participate. Once the principles were enrolled, communications were sent to account managers, outlining the rewards and offers available to them. Depending on the type of deal and the offer selected, engineers were also eligible for rewards. 

The platform's filtering tools allowed Avaya to present unique rewards based on participants' locations and job titles. In addition to the regionally appropriate offers, reward values varied based on the margin for each product and service. In North America, for example, funds were added to reloadable debit cards. Other global participants received points that could be redeemed for merchandise and eGift cards. 

The program's outcomes are a testament to its success: More than 2,000 awards were earned and claimed over the past 12 months, and Avaya continues to report strong financial results. In the second quarter of fiscal 2022, annual recurring revenues increased 118 percent year over year.


Best Recognition Program

Augeo Affinity Marketing and Alline Salon Group

Customers stayed away from hair salons during the pandemic, and in the aftermath, these businesses have struggled to attract and retain top staff. Alline Salon Group (which includes Super­Cuts, Hair Holiday and Cost­Cutters), with 380 locations in the United States, determined to address the challenge by launching a companywide recognition program, Alline­Engage. 

The company's aims were to create a culture of recognition, encourage personal and professional growth for each employee — stylists, team leaders and corporate personnel — and to deliver top service and boost product sales.

The program's digital platform, created by Augeo, features many tools to engage the teams, such as messaging from leadership; peer-to-peer recognition opportunities; spot rewards; milestone recognitions; and learn-and-earn tutorials. Employees earn digital gift cards, merchandise (tech, beauty, home goods, apparel and more); or redeem points they earn for a charitable donation to St. Jude Children's Hospital, Alline Salon Group's chosen charity. 

Early results were outstanding. During the first four months of the program, the AllineEngage initiative facilitated more than 10,000 rewards; as of June, participants had donated 73 percent of Alline's goal of raising $5,000 for St. Jude's. With the company match, St. Jude's received a total donation of $7,350. 

The AllineEngage program is ongoing. New enhancements, including a wellness leaderboard, are scheduled to roll out later this year.