woman celebrates on the beach on an incentive tripTalk to anyone in upper management or HR today, and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest challenges facing employers today is managing employees throughout their lifecycle. From attracting top talent to keeping them engaged, motivated, and satisfied, it can all be a struggle. In fact, take a look at how employers are adjusting their benefits and perks over the last few years and you’ll see workplaces struggling to figure out exactly what employees want.

We all know employees want recognition and rewards, but the days of casual Friday, pizza parties, and donuts are over. In a competitive marketplace with employees looking for employers who offer the best work environments, that includes rewards that go above and beyond. Perhaps that’s why we see more and more employers offering incentive travel as part of their rewards and recognition programs.

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Hawaiian waterfall during incentive travel
What Is Incentive Travel?

Incentive travel is typically part of a rewards and recognition program designed to boost employee motivation or more (we’ll get to that in a bit). Businesses offer trips, often to exotic or bucket-list destinations, as a reward for hitting certain goals or milestones. Those trips may include various, and carefully planned, off-site activities or experiences that make the trip and reward event more enticing. 

Incentive Travel and a Multigenerational Workforce

It’s an interesting time in the workplace for sure. Baby boomers are still active, Gen X is moving up, millennials have found their footing and are making names for themselves, and Gen Z entered the room and is already making their impact. With four generations all working together, it can be hard to find a rewards and recognition program that meets all of their needs.

In the past, cash incentives were among the strongest motivators and this is, perhaps, the primary reward baby boomers are used to receiving. However, when it comes to engaging the full generational spectrum of the modern workforce, there are few things that garner as much agreement as incentive travel. In fact, for the past few years, the Incentive Travel Index has reported that nearly 80% of respondents say that travel awards are very or extremely motivating.

There is, quite literally, no other incentive that appeals to such a wide cross-section of people. With millennials and Gen Z poised to take over a majority of the workforce and research suggesting that they, and others, value experiences over tangible items, incentive travel is a smart choice for your rewards and recognition program.

man surfing during incentive trip
Reasons for Incentive Travel

There are some who don’t need a reason to travel other than travel itself. That rarely works in the business world, especially when it comes to budgeting. Thankfully, there are quite a few good reasons to include incentive travel in your yearly budget and, as we’ll get to shortly, the ROI is worth putting the funds aside.

While you can certainly incentivize individual rewards, the most budget-friendly and ROI-friendly incentive rewards are for larger groups. You may include specific teams or departments, sales winners, the entire company and all employees, vendors, channel partners, or VIP clients. While incentive travel can be a reward for hitting any goal, some of the more common reasons include hitting specific targets, such as:

  • Individual sales goals
  • Yearly sales goals
  • Acquisitions
  • Vendor and partner loyalty
  • Employee loyalty and longevity
  • Production goals

While destination events don’t have to be tied to these ideas, incentive travel focuses on achievement and reward.

Top Seven Benefits of Incentive Travel Programs

With research suggesting that a majority of the workforce loves travel rewards and the opportunity to earn experience over monetary rewards, it’s easy to see why employees might love a program like this, but what does the employer get out of it? It turns out quite a lot.

1. Attract Top Talent

We all know many industries are experiencing staffing shortages, but beyond that, some experts suspect that if we continue at this rate, it’s possible 85 million jobs may go unfilled. With so many job openings, employers are pulling out all the stops to attract talent to fill their positions making it a remarkably competitive market.

Whether you’re touting incentive travel in job listings, on social media, via word of mouth, or in interviews, the promise of travel rewards can be a strong incentive for a job seeker to choose you.

2. Boost Employee Satisfaction and Retention

While attracting talent is important, keeping it is even more crucial. Employee retention can be directly linked to employee satisfaction, so finding ways to keep the great employees you already have is one of the best benefits of travel rewards. There’s little doubt that travel rewards also boost employee satisfaction, especially if you let your team tack on a few extra days before and after the work commitment. That satisfaction also turns into employee loyalty, ensuring that not only are you hiring the best employees out there, but you’re keeping them, too (saving you money in the long run).

3. Boost Employee Productivity

One reason you don’t want positions at your company to go unfilled is that it means there’s work left undone. The same can be said for a non-productive workforce. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything; it just means they may not be as productive as you’d need or like. Incentive travel can change that. In fact, incentive travel may boost employee productivity by up to 20%.

4. Boost Employee Creativity

Few things help your team engage in “thinking outside the box” quite like getting outside the box. Teams in a new environment are not only exposed to new experiences, but those experiences also enhance their creativity. Further, a relaxed, less-restrictive environment may also help boost creativity as well. So, when it comes to generating new ideas and creative problem-solving to push past challenges, incentive travel may be just what you and your employees need.

Team building during incentive travel5. Improve Team Building

Once you get your team out of their standard environment, travel and new experiences provide the chance to lose the suit/uniform/workwear, and this can open doors to new relationships and better understanding among your team members. Travel has been shown to improve all kinds of relationships, and if you add in specific team-building activities, you can have even more impact.

6. Enhance Employee Engagement and Motivation

When you include incentives in your rewards and recognition programs, by default you create some healthy competition between teams and employees. First, when employees see the rewards, they’ll want them as well, and when there's a goal in sight, they’re more motivated.

7. Boost Your Brand

When it comes to incentive travel, social media changed the game. Whether it’s vendors, employees, their families, or other attendees, shots of exotic or fun locales, attached to your business is a great way to stand out.

Many businesses look at the price tag associated with incentive travel and dismiss it based on the initial cost. The ROI, however, cannot be underestimated, and in the long run, the cost is truly offset by the impact. Still, there are ways to save on your incentive travel and ensure you get the most out of your incentive program. That means hiring an event planner or event planning agency with the experience to help you plan and the relationships to leverage to make sure you’re within budget. 

Incentive travel isn’t easy, especially with the logistics required. If you have incentive travel planned for the year, get in touch with us today, and let us help ensure you reap all the benefits of an effective incentive and rewards program that includes travel.
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