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An Incentive of Firsts


Like many globally-focused companies, Gartner and its 6,000 employees worldwide faced numerous challenges during the global economic crisis. However, the company has emerged from the period stronger and with a renewed focus as it continues to grow its revenue year-on-year.

Part of its success is without doubt its incentive travel reward program – Gartner Winners Circle – which this year marked its 24th anniversary with a five-day program in Sydney.

Gartner’s vice president of worldwide event production, Libby Donovan, explained that emerging from the global economic crisis Gartner’s executive felt it important to reward its sales team with a true trip of a lifetime.

“We always want to keep the incentive fresh, take the group somewhere different, and unexpected, and there was a huge amount of excitement when Sydney was launched,” Ms Donovan said.

“And the incentive worked. We had a record number of qualifiers.”

Sydney played host to 700 Gartner employees, the executive team, and partners – 1,600
in total – resulting in the group being split between three five-star hotels in the central business district.

For four days the group found itself at the centre of the universe – celebrated every time they emerged from a bus, clapped and cheered as they walked into a venue, recognised at not one, but two, gala dinners – being wowed from Bondi Beach to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and every experience in between.

“This [incentive] is a very successful strategy for our organisation,” Ms Donovan said while she was managing the Sydney program.

“It’s a global program, a global team, and we try to vary the location around the world so it’s attractive to everybody. Sydney is a very popular city. Gartner Winners Circle hadn’t been to the APAC [Asia Pacific] region since 2006 when we were in Auckland.

“The incentive is for people who have over- achieved. It is really driving the growth of our organisation. The people on this incentive have significantly gone above their targets, and we are rewarding them with an experience they simply could not have if they visited Sydney

as a tourist.”

The enthusiasm of delegates was palpable and was certainly not lost on ID Events Australia, who assisted in the program’s logistics and tour options, and included a record 3,500

tours organised.

“I have never worked on a program where everyone was so friendly and where everybody just wanted to have fun,” said ID Events Australia’s operations manager, Claire Winn.

And it was great fun. From the casual welcome reception at the historic The Argyle at The Rocks; to the Kick Off in the auditorium at the Sydney Opera House with a special Welcome to Country by Wuruniri Music & Dance followed by a performance from the Sydney Children’s Choir and the final Fright Night Theme Party where everybody dressed to impress; this was one incentive that simply oozed something extra special.

The high achievers, called Eagles, arrived in Sydney a day earlier than the rest of the group and were placed in the best suites in the three key hotels – Hilton Sydney, Sheraton on the Park and Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, and had plenty of free time to explore the city before the program began.

Special Gartner lounges were established in each hotel allowing delegates private space to catch up with friends and colleagues, chill out, and finalise their tour options. A permanent after hours bar – Circle Club – was established at The Argyle in The Rocks for late night Gartner revellers for the duration of the incentive.

Tours were devised to ensure the wide-ranging demographic of participants was effectively catered for, and that delegates and their partners had the opportunity to experience

as much of Sydney’s diversity as possible during the program. Activities ranged from water-based options including sailing, paddle boarding, snorkelling and learning to surf at world famous Bondi Beach, to a winery tour in the stunning Hunter Valley, and bushwalking in the Blue Mountains. Shopping, city and cycling tours, cooking schools, helicopter joy flights, and climbing Sydney’s Harbour Bridge were also offered.

Intimate group dinners for country teams were held on each evening of the two 800-person gala dinners in some of Sydney’s finest restaurants including Ananas Bar & Brasserie, Black by ezard, Flying Fish, Quay, Altitude, Est., and The Cut Bar & Grill.


A clear money-can’t-buy event was the Fright Night themed dinner and entertainment showcase held in the warehouse-style Australian Technology Park. The large space was themed fantastically with all things ghoulish including life size gravestones, climbing ivy, bar tables with sparkling skulls, black ravens, and even a full-size hearse.

A mobile bar was a coffin on wheels, while seedy characters in a series of eerie settings were scattered throughout the vast space and could be seen regularly having their photographs taken with guests in-between the Michael Jackson Thriller-style dance performances, the lively house band, and grazing through food stations serving up everything from freshly shucked oysters to `Guts and Gore Goulash’.

European Catering, in consultation with the Gartner events team, provided a spectacularly diverse range of food for guests, showcasing the fresh cuisine that Australia is now becoming famous for the world over.

It was the same at the two gala awards dinners at The Star Event Centre where Gartner’s events team went to great lengths to source and showcase rich local produce. The starter for the gala dinner, for example, was Lemon Myrtle Cured Petuna Ocean Trout with Crayfish and Citrus Scampi.

“Lemon Myrtle is a bush herb from the Australian outback and sourced from the Sunshine Coast. It has a sweet citrus flavour. We have paired it with Petuna Ocean Trout from Tasmania to impart a unique citrus flavour. Lobster and Scampi is a produce of Western Australia,” the menu said of the entree. Similar descriptions of mains, desserts, and local wines were also featured in individual menus for gala dinner guests.

An incentive of firsts

Reviews for Gartner Winners Circle Sydney have been extremely positive, with winners expressing their enthusiasm for the city and the overall program.

As well as a record number of participants at this year’s event, it saw the highest percentage of participants undertake travel extensions before or following the official program. Eighty per cent of delegates took the opportunity to see more of Australia during their visit – a record for any Gartner Winners Circle program.

Gartner continues to improve its incentive travel reward due to the ongoing growth and success of the company. From 2015, a special Club 300 program for the top 300 achievers will travel to one destination while all other qualifiers will be invited to one of three regional events.

No doubt all who visited Sydney will retain many amazing memories that will inspire them to qualify for the all new Gartner high achievers incentive that celebrates its 25th year in 2015.

Article Published by Business Events Australia

Gartner TA_2014


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