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Two Minutes with Mike McWilliams

The incentive veteran, recently hired by Next Level Performance, sees unique VIP experiences as one of several reward solutions still on the table during the pandemic.

Long-time incentive industry executive Mike McWilliams, most recently a vice president at MotivAction, has joined Next Level Performance in a similar role as vice president of marketing and client strategy. McWilliams, who currently serves as the vice chair of the research committee at the Incentive Research Foundation, spent almost three years at MotivAction and before that more than a decade with Aimia focused on the loyalty strategies and their impact.

We caught up with McWilliams in his new role to ask a few questions about the current climate.

MeetingsNet: Beyond the dramatic increase in our comfort level with virtual and hybrid meetings, what lasting impacts of the pandemic do you see for the meeting and incentive travel industry?
Mike McWilliams: As we work our way out of this pandemic, I think we’ll find progressive companies realizing that we can achieve more with larger remote work teams, smaller or fewer offices—and more frequent corporate meetings and events to maintain the teamwork and engagement we once thought came only from cubicles.

MeetingsNet: The pandemic has put the incentive industry is a particularly tough spot in terms of recognizing top achievers. What are the one or two favorite ideas that you’ve considered or executed to reward people virtually?
McWilliams: Top performers deserve a world of special treatment, regardless of current conditions. While global travel remains a gamble, white-glove service is a must. We see opportunity in customized personal travel options, unique VIP experiences (possibly small groups in isolated suites for future sporting events), and personal-choice shopping. 

MeetingsNet: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
McWilliams: I’m an avid traveler and like to immerse myself in a destination’s local culture. Case in point: I’ve been chased clear over a fence in Spain while running with (which became “running from”) bulls through the streets of Pamplona.


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