More and more companies are including travel incentive programs as a way to motivate and reward their employees. But how do you set one up? What are the best practices in travel incentive planning?
Here are our top five tips for planning your travel incentive program:
1. Take your company’s brand into consideration
Staying consistent with your company’s brand identity will help you distinguish your program from beginning to end. From pre-trip communication, to the type of program itself, to the overall design and aesthetic on-site, there are opportunities to integrate your brand at nearly every touch point. Keeping your program’s printed and digital design elements consistent with your company’s brand not only keeps your key messages top-of-mind, but builds unity and community between your top performers during the program itself. This in turn helps to build loyalty and motivate your audience to keep coming back for more; especially when your program is a smash hit.
Offering travel incentives tailored to your employee or customer base will increase motivation and satisfaction, and participants will notice your effort to go the extra mile. For example, if your company is in a more creative industry and employs younger generations, you might send your top performers on a more adventurous program in a visually stunning location. If you’re not sure what kind of travel incentive your employees or customers would like, a quick survey can provide valuable information on their preferences.
2. Set an overall goal
Setting a goal for what you want the incentive program to accomplish can help you narrow down your options. Incentive travel isn’t just about spending money on your top performers or customers. We believe the investment you will make in your program should be tied to a specific, measurable deliverable.
This could be an increase in sales, production, profit or any important, quantifiable asset to the company. Travel incentive programs surely boost morale, but we believe they should also serve as motivation to raise the company’s bottom line.
Similarly, having a goal for what you want your attendees to achieve also helps. Are they there to learn something? Get a fresh outlook on the company? Or to feel refreshed and valued? When you work backward from what you want your employees to receive from the incentive, you’re more likely to achieve those goals.
3. Give yourself enough time to plan
Once you’ve locked down your brand and developed the goals for your incentive program, we recommend allotting ample time and resources to plan the incentive program. We see two reasons for this. One, the best program options fill up early, and time is necessary in researching what your participants really want. You don’t want to dream up the perfect program only to find out it can’t be done because you don’t have enough time.
Another reason to plan ahead is to build hype around the program within the organization. Because you’re tying eligibility to concrete program requirements, we recommend planning and advertising your program 12 to 18 months out from the start date. This amount of time gives people a chance to get excited about the reward and meet the milestones that will earn them the trip, without risking loss of motivation from too long of an eligibility period.
4. Recommend activities
Now comes the fun part! After deciding the destination and accommodations of your travel incentive program, the next step is researching high level experiences and activities for your participants to enjoy. Although many are happy to stay within resort limits and relax, including excursion options for participants of all ages, abilities and interests shows that your company goes the extra mile for its people.
The key in planning activities and excursions is to make them exciting and exclusive. More and more often, research has shown that people value experiences over material souvenirs when traveling. Give your participants a memorable experience that they could not curate themselves—like a private winery tour and cooking class in the rolling hills of Tuscany, a helicopter tour across the glassy waters and stunning mountains of Milford Sound, or a breathtaking sunrise at the top of Haleakala National Park—and they’ll be singing your program’s praises for years to come.
5. Have a program manager on-site
Finally, having a program manager on-site to handle any issues that arise or answer any last-minute questions can greatly improve the travel experience of your rockstar participants. All the planning in the world can’t replace a person that is there to make sure everything goes smoothly. Additionally, program managers have strategic relationships and contacts with venues and suppliers to easily solve problems on the spot.
Bonus tip: we recommend integrating a survey system that lets attendees give feedback on and after the trip. This closes the loop and lets you know what people liked and what needs to change in future programs.
Planning your travel incentive program can be a fun, albeit involved process. Hiring an expert increases the chance of your program’s success exponentially—and we’re here to help! Whether it’s to talk about your future program, or just to say hey, we’d love to hear from you. Contact ESG Incentives today.