Incentive travel is on the upswing!

Incentive travel is a tool used by many businesses to motivate teams to reach higher goals, either to increase sales, build positive corporate culture or both. When those goals are reached, the team members who qualify are included on a vacation planned and provided by the company.

Nearly 46% of companies use some form of incentive travel to motivate their teams, and it can be a great way to reward them when they’ve reached the goal. But there are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re planning an incentive travel program.


  1. Consider hiring a meeting planner.

And consider having your meeting planner on site, to answer questions and keep the activities on point. This may end up even saving you money, because an experienced meeting planner will have connections with a network of vendors and clients and might be able to negotiate discounts or other cost-saving measures that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.


  1. Start early.

A typical meeting or event can be planned six months to a year in advance. But incentive travel is a whole different beast. You have to begin planning 18 months or more in advance, to build excitement and give your team the chance to “earn” the trip. Depending on where you want to go, the high season might mean planning even earlier. And if the destination is international, you need to give team members the time needed to get passports and other documents ready.


  1. Consider branding the event.

There are a couple different reasons to not use your company logo on material and signage for the trip. First, having a separate brand and logo for the event can shield you from being seen as too extravagant. Secondly, a uniquely branded event will give attendees something to get excited about as well as provide the the ability to easily find the planned activities (excursions, meals, the reception room).


  1. Set a goal.

Be sure the goal has been well-defined to your team before rolling out the incentive trip. Be specific. Make the goal challenging but still within reach. Assign dollar amounts, percentages or any other metric appropriate to the goal so team members know exactly what they need to achieve to receive the reward.


  1. Set a budget.

The budget should include the travel expenses as well as any costs to implement and advertise the trip to the team. These costs should also be considered when determining the goal to set. In many cases, incentive travel can actually be a great way to increase the bottom line by increasing sales.


  1. Be precise.

Both in setting the goal for team members to achieve, and in announcing the trip, it’s important to be as precise and specific as possible. Some companies allow spouses and/or families to attend, while others prefer the team members go alone to achieve the goals of the trip. It’s important to decide on every detail possible before ever announcing, so there are no questions about the metrics needed to earn the reward.


  1. Evaluate.

Take the time to assess the trip after it’s complete to determine if it was successful. Did the team leave with the take home message you had hoped? Did they enjoy the destination itself? Was it a memorable experience for the team? Don’t just focus on the money aspect. Include team building and engagement. These are important elements of any successful business, and one of the goals of most incentive travel programs.


Remember, incentive travel is a way to motivate your team to create more revenue for the company. A typical program will keep in mind where the team would like to go – not the CEO – and a realistic goal for the team to achieve. And while on the trip, giving the team an opportunity to give back or otherwise learn about the community they’re visiting has been shown to be one of the most important and rewarding aspects of incentive travel. Create an experience that can’t be replicated and it will help cement incentive travel as a solid motivational and recruitment tool.