Guide to Incentive Travel: The Basics


With the popularity of incentive travel on the rise, an increasing number of employers are looking to learn more about incentive programs and how they work.  They want to understand the time commitment and financial obligation involved, what options exist and whether it’s all worth the effort.  However, possibly the most common question these employers are asking is, “What’s in it for me?”

…[employers] need to be in touch with what their employees want.

They want to reward and motivate their employees, but at what cost? They not only want to know whether this is a worthwhile endeavor, but whether any potential benefit is mutual or one-sided.

It is with this in mind that I present the following overview.  Think of it as a brief basic-level guide to incentive travel. This makes for a perfect starting off point from which you can start to think about how your business might benefit and whether to implement a program custom made for your employees.

What are Incentive Travel Programs and How do They Work?

Quite simply, an incentive program is a business tool used to influence behavior in order to improve profit, cash flow and employee/customer engagement. Often referred to as reward or loyalty programs, they are designed to motivate employees to achieve an established goal by offering a reward to those who successfully do so. The more desirable the reward, the more driven employees will be to achieve it. Therefore, it is imperative that employers can identify what types of rewards will serve that purpose. They need to be in touch with what their employees want and consider worth their above and beyond efforts.

Consequently, what many employees consider the most valuable of rewards is an all-expenses-paid travel experience (more on this in upcoming weeks!). By establishing clear goals, promising an amazing experience if those goals are accomplished and properly promoting the incentive, employers stand to benefit considerably.

How Do Employers Benefit?

While the benefit to employees is easy to see (they accomplish a goal through hard work and dedication and then get to enjoy that free trip), the employer benefit is not always as obvious.

Every employer and business owner knows that a business cannot succeed without customers and employees. As an employer who rewards exceptional performance with an incentive travel program, you stand to reap the benefits of a more motivated staff, improved employee communication and an increase in morale and job satisfaction. Therefore, you increase sales, staff retention and motivate employees to continue providing high-quality work for your business.

What comes as a surprise to many is that travel incentives are proven to be more effective than any other rewards system, including cash bonuses and merchandise rewards. In fact, incentive travel investments have been shown to yield a return of over four dollars for every one dollar spent, according to an Oxford Economics conducted survey

Through the use of incentive travel programs, employers are empowered to create highly valued experiences for their employees and customers. Participation in these programs results in the creation of lifelong memories and travel experiences that many employees would otherwise never provide for themselves. Not surprisingly, these rewards are personal, cherished and not soon forgotten.

…incentive travel investments…yield a return of over four dollars for every one dollar spent.

When an employer uses these incentives to reward incredible employee dedication and performance, he or she also promotes loyalty and helps to retain a dedicated staff that is so much more likely to continue putting forth exceptional effort. This serves to greatly increase the value of their business….and business relationships.

Keep in mind that this is a very high-level overview of incentive travel. There are many factors that contribute to the establishment and success of these programs. As the weeks progress, we’ll continue to explore the many facets of these programs, including the lighter, fun side of incentive travel. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Meanwhile, I’d like to ask how you prefer to motivate and reward your employees.  What methods have worked well for you? What methods have not been successful?

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