The inside track on the latest incentive travel trends
5 February 2017 by Kim Collins
2016 may have seen global political uncertainties unfold, but incentive travel is still set to reach new heights in 2017. So what are the trends for reward and recognition trips?
Who’s doing it?
The latest Incentive Travel Report from Conference & Incentive Travel magazine has found that 85% of event planners expect to see incentive budgets hold steady in 2017. The year is expected to see a surge in incentive travel trips, with a massive 83% of event planners aiming to organise more trips this year to reward and recognise the achievements of their team. Companies that regularly organise recognition trips are now starting to increase their budget and staff numbers, and it follows a similar increase in incentive trips seen last year.
Incentive travel should mean fun for all
Like other reward and recognition events, incentive trips can become a motivating factor for all employees: “From a retention and recruitment perspective it makes the company a sought for company to work for as it shows it values its staff,” says Collins. While top-performing sales staff used to be guaranteed a place on incentive trips, companies are increasingly rewarding employees across all departments.
One option to increase engagement is a ‘wildcard campaign’ where employees nominate top-contributing team members who they feel deserve a place on company trips. This can be a good way to increase co-operation and morale. (As can publicly celebrating their successes – see our expert guide to organising a great award ceremony).
Personalisation is the buzzword
How do you make sure everyone gets the most out of incentive trips, on an individual and group level? A pick-and-mix approach, where employees can choose to take part in more sporty, cultural and food-based activities, are an effective way to create personalised experiences: It’s useful to gather ideas from your team before the trip starts. You can’t make an incentive trip personal until you have feedback from them.
Having said that, group activities work well for many companies because they make unique opportunities possible by keeping costs down. To offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you sometimes need to plan activities for a group.
For example, for one incentive we organised a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon at sunrise, with a champagne breakfast on the side. This was for a group of 20, and we were the only ones out on the Canyon. To do this for one or two people would have been too expensive.
Home or away?
Political stability and safety are key factors influencing destination choices, as stated by 54% of planners in The Incentive Travel Report. But that hasn’t ruled out some far-flung destinations and adventurous trips.
Planners are now looking further afield to destinations such as Vietnam and South America, although many are drawn to staying closer to home, too: “The UK is becoming more popular as a destination for incentives. This is because trips involve less time away from your family,” says Collins.
That needn’t mean the prospects are less exciting: There some unique experiences available in the UK that we don’t take advantage of because we live here, such as hiring a castle in Scotland.
Ninety per cent of the brief for an incentive is about enabling people to do something they haven’t done before. Therefore, it’s worth remembering that a lot of people travel to Europe on holiday with families, but do not usually take advantage of what’s closer to home.
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