The Betabrand FlyAway Program

or…

One of you is getting drunk in Iceland. Tomorrow!

or…

How to turn company meetings into Oprah Moments.

 

At a company happy hour last fall, I learned that many Betabrand employees had never traveled abroad.

I thought: With all the money we spend on fabric and ads and other things, surely we could amass enough credit-card miles each month to send someone on a short, eye-opening trip overseas. So, we centralized spending onto a Capital One Spark card (with double miles!) and started saving up.

We’ve since sent emissaries to Iceland, Ireland, and France, all the while injecting a heaping dose of magic into our workplace.

Every 4-6 weeks, we announce our next international adventurer at an all-hands meeting. And every time we do so, the company explodes in good cheer — sometimes in tears.

Betabrand Fly-Away Program

One employee despaired that she’d never get to see where her grandmother came from in Ireland. We took care of that.

Another helps her mother with money she’d otherwise spend on travel, so we’re sending her to Paris — on a mission to fall in love.

We kicked this all off by sending a pair of brave Betabranders on a January bar crawl in Reykjavik, Iceland, just 24 hours after officially announcing the start of FlyAway.

winners go to iceland

Many folks have asked how they can run a program like this, so I’d like to share the following brief playbook. It’s an idea worth evangelizing, because your company can gain so much through a simple shift in spending. Feel free to borrow our ideas and make them your own. If you have any questions, email me at chris@betabrand.com.

THE PLAYBOOK

fly-away program playbook

NOTE: We realize companies spend differently and aren’t always located near a major international airport, like we are here in San Francisco. In any case, we hope you can take our experiences and use them to create the sort of FlyAway program that best suits your company.

1. Get a mileage card that allows for flexible travel. We use Capital One’s Spark Card, which offers double miles and the ability to book travel with no blackout dates.

2. Estimate how long it’ll take to amass enough miles to make that first trip happen. It’s best to announce the first adventure only after you’ve earned enough miles.

3. Send out a company-wide poll asking if there’s anyone who’s never traveled outside the U.S., and, if so, where would they like to go and why?

4. Award a trip to the first deserving person, then announce at your next all-hands meeting that this will be an ongoing program. By now, you’ll have an idea of how long it takes to earn award miles, so you can set expectations of how often these trips can happen.

5. Should you only reward people who’ve never travelled abroad? Not necessarily. Every third or fourth adventure can be a “next-day challenge” — i.e., a contest to see who’s willing to drop everything and fly somewhere totally unexpected tomorrow. Our first of these was actually a spontaneous photo challenge, with two winners flying to Iceland (in the dead of winter) the next day.

6. Do people get jealous? That’s not been our experience. It’s hard to feel jealous for a person who’s never traveled abroad.

7. What to cover? Again, we realize that different companies have different budgets. We cover the flight and four nights in a hotel — plus passport-renewal fees, if need be.

8. As far as additional expenses (food, drinks, tacky souvenirs), the person who traveled last is obligated to put on a “Fun Raiser” for the next adventurer, usually a few days before his or her trip. Employees and friends are invited to a bar, and the hat is passed. This way, everyone’s invested in the adventure.

9. Should you deduct vacation time? We don’t think so — seems like an unnecessary buzzkill. We like to send folks on trips Thursday through Tuesday; that way, they’re out of the office only 2-3 days.

10. Ask travelers to send dispatches throughout their trip, so friends and coworkers can live vicariously through their experiences.

betabrand 600fly-away program playbook

Chris Lindland

Chris Lindland

Chris Lindland is Betabrand's Founder & CEO
Chris Lindland

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Chris Lindland is Betabrand's Founder & CEO

13 Comments

  1. Allison Cesaro · April 24, 2015 Reply

    Thanks so much for providing this awesome opportunity, Chris! One of the many reasons I’m a rabid, kool aid drinking Betabrand devotee/employee/huckster. Being there for those Oprah tearjerking moments is truly magical! Keep up the good work.

  2. Cathy Kirkham · April 25, 2015 Reply

    Dear Chris;
    I read this blog (first time I have visted your site and heard of/about your company (from a fb ad) ) and I had a teary moment. This is what we should all be about – not just words but actions to embrace being fierce! I must commend you on AWesomeness. Keep up the great work and if you are in search of a 50 something that lives in Florida that is a bad ass … look me up!

  3. Shocking Drone Footage - Betabrand Blog · April 28, 2015 Reply

    […] using company credit-card miles to send them on spontaneous overseas adventures?We call it the Betabrand FlyAway Program, and the results have ranged from the hilarious (with about 12 hours’ notice, Seamus and […]

  4. The Company That Sends Employees On Free International Vacations | Trip-adviser.net · April 28, 2015 Reply

    […] they had to work a small for it. To get a desired sheet to a “FlyAway Program,” employees have to write down a place they’ve always wanted to revisit and why, and a […]

  5. Joel · April 29, 2015 Reply

    Fantastic use of rewards on offer for spending by the company! Glad to see it reinvested back in all staff 🙂

  6. Chris · April 29, 2015 Reply

    Best employee benefit ever.

  7. The 10 best ways to use your frequent-flier miles - United News Media | United News Media · July 31, 2015 Reply

    […] a company happy hour last fall,” Lindland wrote in a recent blog post, “I learned that many Betabrand employees had never traveled abroad. I thought: With all the […]

  8. The 10 best ways to use your frequent-flier miles | Best Travel Day · July 31, 2015 Reply

    […] a association happy hour final fall,” Lindland wrote in a recent blog post, “I schooled that many Betabrand employees had never trafficked abroad. we thought: With all […]

  9. Why Employee Benefits Are Necessary For A Successful Business | When I Work · August 4, 2016 Reply

    […] take a step further — Betabrand, for example, flies workers who have never been abroad to international destinations on their […]

  10. Best Travel Pants - Betabrand Blog · August 10, 2016 Reply

    […] is a world traveler, inveterate wearer of trousers, and, appropriately enough, co-creator of the Betabrand FlyAway Program.* So while we’ll regard his jet-engine design with healthy skepticism, we’re all about […]

  11. Kristin Thomas · August 22, 2016 Reply

    I really love this blog post.

  12. Shawna · October 28, 2016 Reply

    What an amazing idea. I love this!

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