by: Kip Lambert

“Dude!  Dad, that was EPIC!”  My 9-year-old son’s reaction to The Hulk roller coaster at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure made me crack a huge smile.  And how could it not? He’d been too short the year before and couldn’t wait to ride it this year. But when he stood against the sign, he was just millimeters too short for the minimum height requirement.  With some quick thinking and ingenuity, we improvised a small stack of cardboard we found near a snack bar and slipped them into each shoe for added height.

This was a moment of pure elevation, made possible by a little engineering.

In their New York Times bestselling book, The Power of Moments, authors Chip and Dan Heath explain their formula for engineering powerful moments in our lives.  They admittedly hesitate in using the acronym EPIC, because epic is typically a word used to describe moments of heroic effort.  “Epic seems too grandiose and too shallow all at once.  Also, and this is a personal failing, we can’t read the word epic without imagining it being spoken by a stoned surfer dude.  So, bottom line, if the EPIC acronym helps you remember the four elements [for creating powerful moments], please keep it with our compliments,” they conclude.

I love the EPIC acronym and love how it applies so clearly to what I’m trying to accomplish as a dad and as a professional incentive travel planner.  So what does E.P.I.C. stand for?

E = Moments of Elevation

P = Moments of Pride

I = Moments of Insight

C = Moments of Connection

So when planning an event, either as a dad or as a pro, it’s a great idea to use this helpful formula.  And let’s keep in mind, when we can create a moment that exhibits one or all of the elements of the EPIC formula, we boost the memorability of the “moment.”  Let’s take a look at each one in turn.

Moments of Elevation

The Power of Moments explains Moments of Elevation this way: “Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the everyday.  Times to be savored. Moments that make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed, motivated. They are peaks.”   To create a moment of elevation, we must focus on three of the following factors: “First, boost sensory appeal.  Second, raise the stakes. Third, break the script.”

Incentive travel experiences must be engineered as Moments of Elevation so that we can tap into the emotional center of each guest.  Instead of planning a nice meal in between basic vacation activities, in my career I’ve loved creating medieval dinners in ancient Irish Castles (breaking the script), BBQ lunches with a side of volleyball and snorkeling on Monuriki Island, Fiji where Tom Hanks filmed Castaway (boosted sensory appeal), and cocktails and dinner while watching others bungee jump off a bridge—and get peer-pressured into jumping too—at AJ Hackett’s Kawarau Bridge Bungy Centre (raised stakes).

As you create the recipe for your company’s next event or incentive travel experience, make sure to include Moments of Elevation as ingredient #1.  It’s sure to pay off in a BIG way.

Moments of Pride

“Moments of Pride capture us at our best—showing courage, earning recognition, conquering challenges.” 

Our incentive travel programs should really be just the icing on the cake to any healthy rewards, incentive, and recognition program.  When done correctly, guests can feel recognized as top achievers by receiving an award in front of their peers at an awards ceremony during the event.

The preneed professionals at PRECOA are experts in creating these Moments of Pride during their annual incentive trip. Their “Celebration Event” is a much anticipated, emotion-fueled, experience-driven event that both excites and tugs at the heartstrings and is often their highest rated experience during each incentive program.  Surprise envelopes with prizes hidden under seats, cash giveaways, impromptu elimination games, and well-produced speeches and video help create moments of pride not just for the individuals receiving awards but for everyone connected to the company.

Moments of Insight

“Moments of insight deliver realizations and transformations. Moments of insight are serendipitous.  Lightning strikes, and there’s no explaining why.”

Moments of Insight can be the hardest to engineer, but it is possible.  Experiencing new places, interesting cultures, tasting unfamiliar foods, and discovering different people are all usually catalysts to understanding new meanings and having realizations about life.  As Mark Twain stated, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

On a recent Destinations Retreat, Austin Gunther of EKR Agency said the following of his experience in Fiji:How would you be different if throughout your existence, others breathed positivity and life into your being and you did so in return?  That’s Bula.  And you feel it.  You want to make it a part of you.  Share it with your friends and family.  Live a little lighter and experience the daily motivation.  Bula is rooting you on and rooting you to the Fijian culture.”

Moments of Connection

“Moments of connection deepen our relationships with others.  A defining moment of connection can be both brief and extraordinary.”

Incentive travel experiences are the ultimate boosters in the area of creating these Moments of Connection.  They facilitate and augment personal relationships, marriages, work/peer relationships for executives and those who work with them.  They boost loyalty to a cause and to a company like no other. Moments of Connection are crafted through “shared experiences” and are as varied as riding a gondola in Venice and sharing a kiss at sunset, to working shoulder to shoulder in Ghana to refurbish a school for orphans, to beachside dining by candlelight for a couple’s private dinner, to visiting a remote Fijian Village to share a bowl of Kava Kava and lunch with a people who have only had electricity for a few years.  Making memories together strengthens bonds of love and friendship.


Creating WOW moments is what we’re all built for.  With my son, it was a spontaneous, ad lib moment where I knew I could turn a devastating denial to ride into an elevating moment of pride to come off the roller coaster as a conqueror.  So I echo the concluding paragraph of The Power of Moments: “We can be the designers of moments that deliver elevation and insight and pride and connection.  These extraordinary minutes and hours and days—they are what make life meaningful. And they are ours to create.”