Spicing Up Your Travel Incentive Program

When you want to reward your best employees, it seems counterintuitive to tell them, “Go take a hike.” Yet, travel incentive programs are becoming increasingly popular as a way for companies to recognize, reward and motivate top performers.

In fact, research shows that companies today are spending an average of $5,000 per person on incentive travel budgets. Yet, despite the steep cost, many incentive programs are not living up to their full potential for a myriad of reasons. Programs recycled year after year get stale over time if everything stays the same. Additionally, the culture of travel itself changes over time, and program inclusions that motivated people 10 years ago might not motivate the same population today.

To reap the benefits of a travel incentive program, we recommend keeping it fresh every time. In the age of instant gratification and infinite choices, employees today have come to expect more variety and new experiences with more frequency. Fortunately, the incentive travel industry is recognizing this, and there are countless ways for you to amp up your existing travel incentive program.

Here are a few suggestions:

travel incentive program ideas

Be experiential

Imagine photographing giraffes and lions on a South African safari. Or, sleeping in a private island bungalow in Bora Bora. You might even find yourself sipping vodka in an ice bar in Norway.

The current trend in incentive travel is all about offering your employees immersive experiences that reflect the diverse interests of different types of people. But, don’t just guess what your employees want. Ask them! You might be surprised at the kinds of experiences you discover.

Encourage eco-friendly trips

More than ever, people today are concerned about the fate of our planet and are doing their part to live a more sustainable lifestyle. By tailoring some aspects of your incentive travel program to these interests, you not only show your employees that you are socially conscious, but you do the environment a favor, too!

An eco-friendly program doesn’t have to mean foregoing traditional comforts. These days, sustainable travel can also mean luxury travel. Look for travel experiences that advertise zero waste initiatives, or organic food and beverage packages. Reduce your carbon footprint and support the local community by utilizing local businesses and services. Your program recipients will love the unique touches and attention to detail that went into planning their trip, and the planet will thank you, too.

However, it’s critically important to partner with foreign companies that have been thoroughly vetted. You don’t want to send your employees off to some faraway location unless it’s known to be safe.

travel incentive program ideas

Focus on health and wellness

Not every employee wants to go hiking in the rainforest or exploring the Hong Kong nightlife. That’s why wellness travel is a $489-billion global market. Health and wellness destinations can allow your employees to practice yoga on a white sand beach, receive massages in a world-class spa, or learn healthy cooking techniques from renowned chefs.

What better way for a company to show that it cares about the health and well-being of its employees?

Turn mundane activities into incentive itinerary highlights

Let’s face it. In between the surfing lessons and the ski adventures are some pretty mundane experiences. Eating bland airplane food, standing in security lines and waiting for hotel shuttles can be enough to make some employees say, “Forget it. I’ll stay home.”

But what if you could turn those activities into part of the itinerary? This might mean chartering a plane, helicopter or private ferry to go from destination to destination, offering another opportunity to wow reward recipients. Or, you can offer a traveler his or her favorite meals and beverages on board.

With a little creative thinking, you can transform the worst parts of travel into something your employees look forward to.

travel incentive program ideas

Include itineraries not found at home

There are some things that you can find in pretty much every major city. Things like dinner cruises and 5-star hotel stays are always a crowd pleaser, but why not go bigger? Planning experiences that your employees wouldn’t be able to do themselves makes for an unforgettable memory.

Watch the sunrise atop the majestic Haleakala volcano in Maui. Offer a private sidecar tour of the bustling city streets of Shanghai. Or, give your top performers a chance to dance the night away at a private beachfront gala with their closest colleauges.

When you offer experiences that people can’t get at home, you give them memories that last a lifetime.

All in all, discovering and offering unique and once in a lifetime travel experiences as incentives for your employees can be fun and rewarding for everyone. You get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve got the best incentive travel program in the business, and a motivated workforce. Your employees get an incredible travel experience, and feel truly valued and rewarded for being part of the team. Contact us today to get started on your own travel incentive program with our team of experts.

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