A viral story made the rounds recently, about a solopreneur who set aside a sizeable chunk of his profits during the year and used it to go on a luxurious summer holiday. Nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that he did that after appointing himself “employee of the year” and then claimed the whole cost of the holiday as work-related expenses, filing it under “travel incentives”. Now, the story itself, like most viral threads, may or may not be true and it is certainly meant to be funny, but if you stop and think about it, it makes a lot more sense than one would think upon reading it. After all, there’s no shortage of self-help posts and books that maintain you should reward yourself, treat yourself and invest in things that make you happy, to stay productive and motivated. And if you agree that rewards are powerful motivators, why shouldn’t you make sure your employees get them? Now, this is where most small and medium entrepreneurs hesitate: certain rewards may seem too costly for all but the largest corporations. If you know how to budget, however, it’s relatively easy to craft a great incentive travel plan for your team. Here are our pro-tips.
Use as many affiliate programs as you can
The first thing you should do, as soon as you decide to budget for an incentive travel plan, is saving. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should cut other expenses, but that you should take advantage of any option that may help you save on specific aspects of your travelling costs. Affiliate programs are a great way to start. Most of the services that SMBs use regularly offer affiliate programs, some of which include air miles. Look into your current insurances and credit cards and enquire after loyalty programs for business clients. More often than not, you’ll be offered a few options to help you cover business travel costs. Finding a creative way to cut expenses without compromising on service is an essential part of planning for an incentive travel plan.
Be flexible on dates, in order to get the best accommodation
The point of an incentive travel plan is to treat your employees to a unique experience, something special, out of the ordinary. Ideally, it should be something they wouldn’t do for themselves. This means you have to go above and beyond the kind of accommodation that would be acceptable for the average family vacation. In other words, you have to go for luxury accommodation, excellent hotels and resorts, and special experiences. How can you do that on a limited budget? Make a shortlist of destinations and then reach out to the facilities that appeal to you. Bear in mind that all hotels, even the most glamorous, struggle to fill all of their rooms throughout the year. Be frank and open and ask them at what times during the year that happens. In the south of Italy, for instance, you might be able to book fantastic hotels in autumn for very reasonable prices and still enjoy lovely and almost summer-like weather.
Book your incentive travel plan in advance
This will always be the most important piece of advice when it comes to budgeting for your incentive travel plan. Whenever you book transportation or accommodation last-minute, you restrict your own choices. The farther in advance you book, the more options you will have, in terms of flights, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. This will give you a lot more leverage, as well as plenty of time to choose the program that best fits your needs and your budget.