A Lincoln Park, MI, company that needed to hire about 50 engineers wanted to set itself apart from itscompetitors. Its solution? Offer four-day, three-night vacation packages to those who refer a new hire.

Too expensive, you say? Not the way Global Technology Associates Ltd., which provides contractengineering services to the auto industry, figured it. While its nearest competitors doled out $100 referralbonuses, Global Technology awarded about 50 vacation packages to people who referred job candidatesthat were hired by the company and stayed at least 90 days. The vacations went mostly to currentemployees, but people outside the company who made referrals and even job applicants, who werepermitted to refer themselves, received them as well.

"It was a big success. I' m trying to figure out how to bring it - or something like it - back," SusanHall, the company' s technical recruiting manager, tells Recruiting Trends.

The company' s program, Vacation Celebration, ran from October through May, and was administered byCrown Marketing Group in Clearwater, FL.

Savings in the Long Run

"We thought it was attractive because it was something that was different," says Ken Fiema, GlobalTechnology' s president. "We received good responses and good publicity from it in the industry."

Employers, who are using travel incentive programs to either recruit or reward their workers, say theinitial outlay more than makes up for the long-term expense of replacing the employees.

While companies might pay $300 for the least expensive package - a three night stay at a DoubleTreeHotel in Orlando, FL -- they spend between $3,000 and $20,000 in training costs for new employees, saysHenry M. Littles, the vice president of the YAPA Vacation Club in Syracuse, NY. The company, adivision of the Young Adult Professional Associates Inc., sells these travel incentive programs toemployers.

Typically, the vacation packages run between $200 and $2,000 for two adults and three children. Pricesvary according to the type of resort or hotel the employer chooses and the amount purchased. Thepackages don' t include transportation.

"The idea we' re building on is to make the employee happy and increase productivity for the employer,"Littles says. "A lot of employers are looking at situations where employees are looking to stay one year ortwo. Here' s a program designed to get them to stay three or four years."

These programs also help with the company' s own internal public relations. "Employees are saying theyare trying to balance work and family. Employers (who offer this program) are seen in the light of tryingto help the employees," Littles says.