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What is Incentive Travel & Why Should You Care

What is Incentive Travel & Why Should You Care

Incentive is the “I” in MICE travel, but what exactly is incentive travel and why is it important?

Incentive travel is often used as a powerful tool to motivate employees. Many employee engagement experts have revealed that the promise of travel to exotic destinations can be a very effective motivational tool for staff.

In response to this, there has been an entire industry of professionals developed around incentive travel. This type of travel is designed specifically for business travelers and reflects how their needs are different than other types of travelers.

The Power of Incentive Travel

When they are executed well, incentive events and trips will motivate or reward employees to improve their performance. Often, these trips are linked to specific achievements such as sales goals. (Of course, the employee needs to be aware of the goal and reward in order for the incentive to motivate performance.)

So, why incentive travel and not financial rewards? Wouldn’t employees rather receive a cash bonus when they perform well? Believe it or not, studies have shown that non-monetary rewards such as trips are actually more desirable for employees than cash bonuses. After all, a cash bonus feels a bit impersonal and doesn’t make the employee feel unique or special.

According to a 2015 landmark study by the Incentive Research Foundation, the most preferred type of award for performance was a travel award. Also, the IRF has done quite a bit of research into measuring the ROI of travel incentive programs. According to their data, a quality and well-executed travel incentive program can increase productivity by 18% and produce a 112% ROI. Talk about an effective business tool!

The IRF have also reported that incentive travel is a booming industry. According to the study called “2016 Trends in Incentive Travel, Rewards & Recognition” the average budget for incentive travel are increasing. Melissa Van Dyke, president of the IRF, reported that budgets have increased to more than three thousand dollars per employee on average.

One of the essential aspects of incentive travel is for the organization to truly understand the individual that they are rewarding. While incentive travel will be different depending on the organization, the most effective incentive is the opportunity that will be most appealing to the employee.

Hot Trends in Incentive Travel

The world of incentive travel is evolving at a very fast pace. Let’s take a look at some of the hot trends of the moment in incentive travel.

  • Technology: There is an increased use of technology, both when it comes to booking travel as well as managing travel and staying in touch with employees while on the road. Many companies are using social media to enhance their incentive travel programs. Others use game techniques and mechanics. There’s no wrong answer or approach.
  • Experiential Travel: The types of trips that are popular at the moment are often one-of-a-kind experiences. These are trips such as wildlife safaris, festivals, events or cultural immersion opportunities. Experiences like these are known as the “new luxury” and travelers are seeking authentic interactions with the places they are visiting.
  • Wellness Travel: Retreats that leave travelers feeling healthier and more well rested than when they arrived are very popular. This form of wellness travel is especially in demand with overworked, busy employees.
  • Bespoke Trips: Some employee travel incentive programs are opting to use charter companies. They set a unique schedule and itinerary based on the needs of a small group. They’re basically unique, high-level incentive programs that are customized for employees.
  • Group Activities: Many companies are booking trips for groups of their employees that involve activities. This could be group tours, water sports, skiing, hiking or other, similar types of trips. They can be a great way for co-workers to bond with each other outside of the workplace and boost team morale.
  • Social Impact Travel: This is another hot trend that combines travel experiences with social responsibility. It blends the desire to make a positive impact in the community that you are visiting with the enjoyment of a trip away from home.

Also, the 2016 Trends in Incentive Travel Rewards and Recognition report revealed that many companies are booking their incentive travel even further in advance than ever before. Over 40% of the respondents said that they are booking 7-12 months out, while 45% said they were booking more than a year out.

Incentive Travel Will Continue to Grow

The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence commissions a research study every year. This study looks at how incentive travel is used by businesses around the world. It is a “state of the industry” report that looks into which sectors are using incentives, how much they are investing in it, where incentives are traveling to and much more.

The most recent research indicates  a great deal of optimism and growth for incentive travel in the future. It appears that the “I” in MICE is very important and that incentive travel will continue to make a significant impact on the business world.

What do you think of incentive travel? Are you using it in your company or have you been a lucky recipient of a trip like this? If you need help planning or executing incentive travel,  Traveler’s Q can help! We book trips like this often and can recommend our top destinations and experiences in a free consultation! Contact us today to learn more.

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