I am a firm believer that each event—especially one that recurs—has its own culture. The atmosphere of one event is typically very different from that of another, even within the same company. Each one is a living, breathing entity, and its health is dependent on the care and attention of its planner. So how does the culture vary from a meeting to an incentive event? Obviously, an incentive is a fun trip, and a meeting is more business-oriented, right? Wrong. The common denominator of all meetings is the dissemination of valuable, applicable information and networking, while the common denominator of incentives is fun. But why not incentivize your group to attend your meeting? The goal of any planner is not to punish her event-goers by ensuring they know they’re in a conference and there’s no time for play—it is to make each and every experience as pleasant and memorable as possible. Your event begins the moment your guests hear they’re invited. It’s on their calendars. Now your job is to get them excited by communicating about the event and why they should look forward to it or why it’s relevant to them. Once on-site, keep your group invested. Make sure the content is fresh and engaging, offer rewards for those who attend all of their breakouts, book fun entertainment during breaks, and drop gifts in attendees’ rooms while they’re in sessions. Defy the box. Step outside of it and plan a meeting with a culture that compels your group to participate and mark their calendars for next year, incentive or not.