You found our list of the best corporate incentive travel program tips!
Corporate incentive travel programs are initiatives that offer all-expenses paid trips and experiences in exchange for extraordinary performance. For example, a trip to Thailand or Mexico. These programs aim to motivate employees and raise morale, loyalty, and productivity.
This article includes:
- incentive travel examples
- incentive trips for employees
- group travel incentive programs
- corporate incentives besides travel
Here is the list!
Incentive travel examples
When it comes to destinations and trip experiences, possibilities are endless. Here are a few examples of incentive travel programs to give you inspiration:
- A stay in the British countryside complete with castle tours
- A food tour through Italy or France, or through your home city
- Museum crawl through New York City
- Hotel and tickets to a Broadway or West End show
- A Seine River expedition through Germany
- Weeklong country-hopping tour
- Hiking excursion in the mountains
- Wildlife interaction at a sanctuary
- Wine country visits
- Behind the scenes tour of a nearby brewery
- Weekend stay at a local bed and breakfast
- Tropical beach escape
- Historical tour of a prominent city
- Hot air balloon rides
- Passes and accommodation to a cultural festival
- Company cruises
- Glamping or camping
- Team building retreats
The items on this list provide a solid baseline for program structures, but there are many possibilities for irresistible trips that will drive employees to perform at their best.
Corporate incentive travel program tips
From soliciting suggestions from staff to leveraging social media, here are the steps for creating an effective corporate incentive travel program.
1. Ask your staff for ideas
A travel program is only an incentive if your staff wants to take the trips you choose. Instead of outright guessing, or stealthily scanning your staff’s Instagram vacation posts, ask your staff for destination and activity ideas.
First, gather plausible options for countries, cities, accommodations, excursions, and activities. Then, distribute a survey, and use the feedback to inform your selections. Consider including a write-in option on your questionnaire so employees can point you towards any useful travel resources or discount programs.
2. Determine the goal of your program
The point of an incentive program is to achieve a particular result or encourage a certain behavior. Thus, when designing your incentive trips for employees, it is important to outline the goal.
Corporate incentive travel program objectives may include:
- Specific sales targets
- Increased client satisfaction scores
- Decrease in paperwork errors
- Shorter customer wait times
- Quicker production turnaround time
The goal of the program may include multiple aims, and targets may vary by position or department.
Trips are a significant investment, and organizations expect a worthwhile return on such a weighty investment. By outlining clear goals when introducing the program, you justify the expenditure and link the reward to a clear result.
3. Provide clear guidelines to staff
Higher management are not the only parties that benefit from having accurate expectations for the program. When announcing the initiative, provide clear guidelines to the staff so employees understand how to earn the rewards. For best results, communicate the necessary targets, performance period timeline, methods of measurement, and ultimate prizes.
You may also want to mention:
- The level of date flexibility for trips. Can attendees choose from multiple months or weekends, or will there only be one date for the trip? If the latter, then disclose the date upfront.
- Whether or not family members and guests can join the trips.
- Included amenities vs add-on options.
- Accommodations the company can make for staff with special circumstances.
Misunderstanding requirements could lead to staff missing out on the opportunity, causing disappointment. Employees want to feel that managers are upfront and honest, and clear communication fosters trust.
4. Consult a travel expert
Corporate travel programs require a great deal of planning and logistics management. Coordinating such a program alone can feel overwhelming, but travel and events companies that specialize in running incentive programs can simplify the process.
Here are some recommended travel incentive companies:
- American Express Meetings & Events
- Creative Group Inc.
- First Incentive Travel
- Peak Performance Meetings & Incentives
- Bishop McCann
- Bi Worldwide
- Fox World Travel
- Maritz Global Events
- ITA Group
- George P. Johnson Experience Marketing
- World Travel Inc
Even if you decide not to hire a third-party vendor to manage incentive trips, consider consulting a travel agent or other professional who has experience planning and executing group trips. If nothing else, then read HR blogs for advice. You do not need to reinvent the wheel; you can rely on the guidance of professionals who have seen success with incentives to shape your program.
5. Research multiple vendors
While destination management companies often advertise packages that remove the hassle from corporate travel planning, these all-inclusive offerings are not always the best options for your needs. Working with multiple event providers may be a more cost-effective solution that results in better experiences for your employees.
Consider branching out and enlisting different companies for transportation, accommodations, catering, and experiences such as museum tours or adventure sports outings. At minimum, research and compare multiple destination management companies to ensure you find the best deal and optimal level of service.
6. Negotiate exclusives
Most travel incentive companies work with organizations to create tailored, customized plans. When designing trips, securing exclusive amenities and activities can make the experience even more attractive. For instance, booking an illustrious restaurant for a private party with a special menu, or receiving an after-hours, behind-the-scenes tour of a historical site with an expert. Planning experiences that attendees cannot replicate during personal visits makes the experience feel more unique, which compels employees to work harder to secure their spots on the trip.
7. Use organizational resources
While a travel incentive trip differs from a business trip, branches in other geographical regions can be a great help to your planning process. Offices in other states or countries might be able to make an introduction to a contact such as a travel coordinator, local guide, restaurateur, or hospitality professional that can help you coordinate your trip. You might even take advantage of special corporate discounts or offerings thanks to your relationship with the sister site.
Even if your organization does not have locations worldwide, you may employ a teammate who has previously worked, traveled, or lived in your destination and can offer recommendations. Tapping into your company’s internal resources improves the journey.
8. Stick to a budget
Travel programs are rarely low-cost perks. Expenses like transportation, accommodation, meals, and entertainment add up quickly, even if your group remains local. While increases in worker output and performance often justify the price of the program, it is still important to stick to a budget to ensure a balanced return on investment.
Researching beforehand helps avoid overspending. Before you commit to a destination or travel package, ensure you understand the total cost, including any additional expenditures such as insurance, service fees, non-included meals, transportation between venues, and tips for service staff.
Remember that if employees show interest in pricey experiences that the company cannot cover, then you can compensate by scheduling free time and allowing attendees to purchase optional activities.
Here is a list of ways to spend your budget at year-end.
9. Be liberal with options
Your group is a diverse bunch with a wide range of interests. One employee’s dream trip might not be another’s. To guarantee that all travelers enjoy the experience, arrange an array of activities that suit many tastes. For example, plan a bar crawl one evening and an open mic the next. Or, give attendees the choice between wine tasting, rock climbing, or touring a museum.
When planning activities, keep in mind:
- Physical ability
- Level of socialization
- Dietary needs
- Non-alcoholic options for non-drinkers
- Price, if members pay out of pocket
- Cultural sensitivity and inclusivity
Keep these considerations in mind not only when planning activities, but also when booking trip details. For instance, steer clear of destinations with recent human rights violations or recent racial tensions in favor of diverse and inclusive locations where all guests feel welcome.
10. Focus on the experience more than the destination
While the ability to travel to a foreign country or a lively city is a major draw, the location is not as important as your team’s overall happiness. Instead of fixating on the destination, focus on the experience. You do not need to pick a flashy locale to garner interest in the program. Attendees can have fun in a neighboring town or an off-the-beaten-path destination if you plan meaningful and engaging activities.
When choosing a venue for your trip, explore unconventional options and open yourself to interesting possibilities. Aim to connect your staff meaningfully with the local culture and with each other. Keep an eye out for experiences unique to your host city, and aim to be travelers rather than simply tourists. In essence, unlock the full potential of each city, neighborhood, or business instead of relying on the allure of the destination to do the heavy lifting.
11. Offer resources and assistance
Assuming that every trip member is an experienced traveler is a mistake. Travel programs generate interest among a wide range of attendees, from globetrotters to folks who have yet to step foot in an airport. Because there may be a discrepancy in the travel knowledge within your group, offering resources and assistance is helpful. Even if your package includes transportation, members may need to book plane tickets individually, in which case you should designate a helper to answer questions and resolve issues.
Consider also providing:
- Passport and visa application assistance
- Packing tips
- Applicable CDC advisories and vaccine information
- A guide to cultural norms in your destination country
- Travel medical and insurance resources
- Currency exchange services
- Safety recommendations and emergency contact information
You can equip the group with helpful literature, hold informational sessions, and create online forums where attendees can ask and answer questions, too.
12. Use trips as an opportunity to expand employees’ worldviews
While the trip acts first as an incentive and reward, the vacation can serve as an educational tool, too. By incorporating cultural experiences, you expand teammates’ worldviews, teach empathy, and develop soft skills that enhance employees’ abilities to interact with clients and colleagues.
To capitalize on the effects of the trip, select a destination that pushes staff out of their comfort zone and introduces new viewpoints and experiences. To achieve this end, the destination does not have to be a foreign country. Every country is culturally diverse, and workers benefit from visiting a new region, or even connecting with a distinct subculture close to home. The trip can be an opportunity not only for employees to relax and have fun, but also to grow.
13. Maximize team bonding
Being in an unfamiliar place together can bring a group closer together. Shared experiences are the root of team building, and group trips establish common ground and memories that form a foundation for continuing relationships. Group travel incentive programs can not only save companies time and money, but also supercharge group development. One of the best approaches to travel programs is to maximize team bonding potential by planning group excursions and team building activities and scheduling time for group reflection.
By dedicating Slack channels, social media groups, team chats, pre and post trip sessions, and shared online photo albums to the trip group, you can further fuel interactions between members.
Here is a list of team building ideas to try.
14. Leverage employee testimonials and social media
Organizations devote significant resources to travel programs. One way to optimize return on investment is to leverage employee testimonials and social media as a way to market company culture and motivate colleagues to strive for future travel incentives.
A few suggestions:
- Distribute a survey at the end of the trip. Make the survey completion a scheduled activity, or incentivize feedback by holding a prize drawing in tandem.
- Ask employees to submit photos and captions to the marketing team for the company social media page
- Coordinate a social media takeover campaign where trip attendees schedule content for company social media channels
- Encourage attendees to tag posts on personal accounts with the company handle and a specific hashtag.
- Dedicate blog posts to the experience
- Compile a highlights reel of the trip by editing together video clips
- Allow participants to speak about the trip on a company podcast
- Invite attendees to speak at information sessions for future trips
Most folks appreciate having a platform to share their stories and experiences. This user-generated content has many uses both internally and externally, such as in recruitment materials, marketing projects, and employee engagement campaigns.
15. Offer alternatives to travel
Although travel is an enticing incentive, it is not a universal motivator for all employees. Familial obligations, health complications, fear of flying, or a distaste for travel are examples of conditions that might prevent staff from reaping the rewards of the program. To better suit the needs of your entire organization, offer alternatives to trips, such as material bonuses or more localized experiences. Examples might include a chartered day at a nearby winery, tickets to the hometown sports team game, or extra paid time off. Read the next section for more suggestions on non-travel incentive rewards.
Other corporate incentives besides travel
Travel is not viable to every employee’s circumstances. For a more universally appealing incentive program, consider offering alternatives to travel. The following list offers a few suggestions.
Bonuses are the most common employee incentive. Monetary rewards give employees more autonomy over their winnings, since staff has the discretion to use the extra cash as they see fit. Not to mention, a financial award sends the message that the organization shares extra profits with staff, thus compelling employees to generate more revenue for the company.
When introducing financial incentives, it is important to explain a clear bonus structure so that the staff has a solid understanding of expectations and performance metrics.
2. Extra paid time off
Instead of scheduling a trip for employees, you could offer extra paid time off so that employees can travel when, where, and with whom they prefer. Through this method, your staff may opt for a staycation instead, choosing to use the extra time to catch up on errands, develop side hustles, spend time with family members, or relax at home. This approach signals that the company values employees’ personal time and appreciates work life balance. Plus, offering extra time awards employees more freedom to customize their prize.
Concerts are close-to-home adventures. Music and nightlife enthusiasts love the chance to attend live performances. Access to sold-out or exclusive events, good seats or entry into VIP areas, and other perks like complimentary food or merchandise sweeten the deal. Partnering with a corporate-facing event company or local concert venue can help you net discounts and special offers for your employees.
4. Sporting events
Tickets or company box seats at a sporting event are an enticing prize for sports fans, salespeople, and anyone who relishes the energy of a live game. Best of all, since seasons consist of many games, you can divide the performance period into multiple benchmarks, and employ ticket giveaways as an ongoing motivator. Also, sports inspire attitudes of camaraderie and teamwork which you can channel into your workplace.
New gadgets and upgrades hit the technology market daily. Keeping all gadgets updated can be a challenge, so technology rewards are tempting incentives.
A few suggestions for technology incentives:
- video game systems
- action cameras
- smartwatches and fitness trackers
- wireless earbuds
- 3-D printers
Consider offering technology upgrades for personal use, work use, or a mix of both. For example, promise to buy high-tech printers for the winning department.
6. Parking spots
Parking can be a surprisingly effective employee motivator, especially if you work in a city with scarce or expensive parking options. Even if the office building houses a company garage, employees may eye a desirable spot. Winning a prized parking spot or a complimentary pass checks one box off of the proverbial to-do list and makes the morning commute less hectic. If parking is not part of your employee benefits package, then consider offering the amenity as a prize.
7. Fitness classes
Fitness is important, but not always inexpensive. While many companies offer wellness credits, gym memberships, or exercise classes as perks, bonus fitness services can make attractive prizes.
Here are some ideas for fitness incentives:
- Home gym equipment
- Subscription to online Yoga classes or Peloton
- Personal trainers
- Workout wardrobes
- Fitness trackers and smart devices
- Unusual exercise classes like parkour or circus aerobics
Even if your company provides regular exercise options, an upgraded fitness experience can serve as extra motivation.
8. Charity donations
Monetary gain is not a universal motivator, and at times philanthropy can drive efforts more effectively than cash rewards. One alternative to material prizes is to donate an agreed amount to a charity of the awardee’s choice.
Pro tip: Allow employees to suggest charities that fall within prescribed guidelines instead of picking from a limited list to ensure that workers can raise money for a cause they are passionate about.
9. Task management services
While you may not be able to give your employees extra hours in the day, gifting task services is the next best option. Hiring professional errand-runners frees up time in your employees schedules for relaxation, self-care, and self-improvement.
Suggestions for task services:
- Grocery deliveries
- Laundry and dry cleaning services
- Cooks or professional meal preppers
- Cleaners or organizing consultants
- Childcare services
Consider gifting credit towards multiple-service providers like TaskRabbit and Thumbtack so awardees can choose the most useful options.
10. Meals with executives
Lunch or dinner with a member of the C-suite serves the dual function of providing a complimentary meal along with quality time with higher management. For best results, offer one-on-one meetings or small group experiences so that every awardee has ample opportunity to interact with the executive. Similar bonding opportunities include golf games, tennis matches, hikes, creative classes, winery or brewery trips, or video game showdowns.
11. Massages and self-care
Some workers might not treat themselves to massages, spa-days, and other self-love splurges, but will indulge if gifted an activity. Pampering experiences inspire employees to achieve a goal while emphasizing the importance of self-care.
Here are some examples of self-care incentives:
- Spa days
- Manicures and pedicures
- Salon appointments
- Meditation session
- Career consulting or meeting with a life coach
These prizes send the message that companies care about employee wellbeing as well as performance.
12. Extraordinary events
Though some folks use the term incentive events interchangeably with incentive trips, at-home events can offer the excitement of travel minus the forms, transportation costs, or downtime at the airport. Extraordinary events give employees opportunities to socialize, participate in new experiences, and make memories with colleagues.
Some examples of event incentives include:
- Improv or standup comedy shows and workshops
- Cooking classes with renowned chefs
- Laser tag tournaments
- Winery or brewery tours
- Cocktail party at the CEO’s house
- Amusement park trips
- Early access to a new venue
- Special sales or product trials
Limiting the number of spots at these events and awarding entry only to high-achieving employees makes the occasion feel more special and motivates staff to strive towards a goal.
Travel is one of the most common bullet points on bucket lists, which means that trips serve as a powerful motivator. By affording employees opportunities to travel, you expand their world views and supercharge their relationships with teammates, all while rewarding extraordinary efforts and results and assigning great value to your workers’ contributions.