When its dealers do a better job, Jayco Inc. send s them packing. Jayco, a $40-million maker of recreational vehicles in Middlebury, Ind., runs a travel incentive program every year from September to February, the period when demand for RVs usually cools off. This year, the reward for high-performing dealers is a one-week trip for two to Austria, including stopovers in Vienna and Salzburg and a scenic cruise down the Danube River.

Jayco separated its 270 dealers nationwide into five categories according to sales volume, with trips to Austria promised to the top-selling dealers in each group. The categories were established to give smaller dealerships a better chance to win than they would otherwise have had. Every winner had to reach at least a minimum sales performance established by the company. The trip to Austria was planned and run by AHI Inc., in Des Plaines, Ill., a group-travel operator that specializes in incentive trips. Jayco, which usually contracts its travel contests tors like AHI, is paying AHI about $500,000, which will cover all expenses.

"The prospect of winning a trip pushes everyone to a greater effort, but it particularly improves the morale of smaller dealers in far-flung areas," says Al Yoder, Jayco's executive vice-president. "It gives them a chance to win something, too."

Yoder says the yearly travel contests usually prevent sales from sinking too far into the fall-to-winter doldrums. This year about 90 dealerships won, and around 280 people representing those dealerships will be leaving for Austria this October.

"The trip itself acts as an incentive, but people also strive to be part of an elite group," says Richard Douglas, vice-president of marketing for AHI. "Unlike prizes like cash or a toaster, a trip is highly visible and makes a dealer feel special." Douglas says this year's travel agenda for Jayco's winning dealers will include a grand ball in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, where the president of Austria still lives, and performances by the Mozart Boys Choir and the Austrian Ballet. At the palace, dealers will be heralded by royal trumpeters, served by waiters dressed in livery, and provided with formal suits and gowns in the style of the royal empire.