Incentive Travel With Meaning: The Emerging Trend

July 9, 2018

by: Kip Lambert

Incentive Travel has been used for decades by companies to motivate, reward, and recognize their employees’ stellar sales performance.  Afterall, study after study, like this 2011 white paper by Aberdeen Research, confirms that organizations providing non-cash incentives outperform those who work with cash rewards—adding a 9.6% year-on-year increase in corporate revenue in comparison to their 3%.  But that is just the beginning of the benefits.

With so much focus on employee retention these days, companies are looking for ways to revitalize their compensation structures, their company culture, and their visibility as a company which does good not just for their employees, but also the communities in which they work and for the world in general.  Incentive travel is gaining steam as companies realize the power it has in retaining the affordability of a cash incentive while skyrocketing the value for everyone involved through an all-expenses paid company trip. Companies experience the benefit of team cohesion built upon incredible shared experiences.  Group travel provides a unique opportunity to connect in an iconic location, to dive in deep to a cultural experience, and to share for years to come memories of zip-lining through a Costa Rican jungle, dressing in kilts for a formal dinner at a Scottish castle, or walking the very beach where Tom Hanks wept for Wilson in the movie Castaway.

Yet these unforgettable experiences are eclipsed by an even more powerful component—Service.  The emerging trend with incentive travel is to not only see and do incredible things but to BE incredible by serving the community they are visiting.  Teams and employees are strengthened with fun, meaningful, and service-oriented activities. On a recent trip to Fiji, one company took a full day of their otherwise relaxing incentive trip to paint a local school, put together bunk beds, and perform other manual labor together.  Upon returning home, this activity was the highest rated in the post-trip survey and was the activity that received the most attention in the participants’ social media accounts.

The formula is very simple.  Rewards & Recognition + WOW Shared-Experiences + Giving Back = focused, engaged, happy, and fulfilled employees.  Cash bonuses are quickly forgotten. Nobody takes a selfie of them paying down a debt with a cash bonus. Even a year later, employees can’t remember how much their cash bonus was or what they used it for.  But they’ll remember the beaches of Fiji, the connection with their team, and the faces of the children seeing their newly painted school. Nothing ramps up revenue, revitalizes company culture, and raises visibility like tapping into the power of meaningful incentive travel.