There are many ways of showing your employees that you appreciate and value their work, but none as effective as incentive travel. We have mentioned it multiple times on this blog: offering your team a unique and memorable experience is the most effective reward any company can provide. This, however, doesn’t make incentive travel an “easy” solution when it comes to picking a rewards system. Planning a trip is one thing, but setting out to create a truly memorable experience, that will be perceived as a high-value reward, is quite another kettle of fish. Meeting the needs and expectations of a corporate traveller can be harder than you imagine, particularly in an industry where standards have been on the rise for years. It’s easy to make mistakes, even when you are convinced you are choosing what’s best for your employees. You might be tempted to offer the same program multiple times or you might end up picking a destination that was popular with a certain team and offer it to another, without taking the time to investigate individual preferences. How do you get good value for your money and the best possible outcome on your incentive travel programs? Our experts shared a few useful tips.
The Top 3 Tips for Planning a Corporate Incentive Trip
1. Timing is everything!
When planning a trip, usually two factors need to be taken into consideration. On one hand, the need not to disrupt the company’s working schedule too much, on the other, the tendency to avoid planning trips in the high season, for obvious budget reasons. Incentive travel, however, is more complex than that. Regardless of the season, for instance, it is not a good idea to plan a trip during or right before an important project. Those who stay behind would end up being put under an unfair amount of pressure and those who go on the trip would come back to a stressful and urgent backlog, making their return to the office routine traumatic. Productivity, on the whole, is likely to suffer in this scenario. On the other hand, planning incentive trips during the high-season, i.e. in summer, at Christmas or during any other national holiday, at a time when employees are already going on vacation, will make carrying out the office’s daily tasks harder. The best time to plan an incentive trip is right after an important deadline, ideally one or two weeks away from any major holiday on either side. What if that timeframe happens to be in the wrong season, for the destination you picked? We suggest you pick a destination that has something to offer in every season!
2. Have goals
Wait, isn’t incentive travel just supposed to be fun and relaxing? Why do you need goals? Because this is still business and you wouldn’t be investing in incentive travel if you didn’t know it was going to help your bottom line. If you are planning on expanding internationally, for instance, you might want to book your next incentive trips to your target countries and arrange to meet potential clients or business partners. If you already have offices in multiple countries, on the other hand, incentive travel might be a pleasant and useful way of getting your international teams to meet each other, in order to create a better, deeper working relationship. Whatever your goal is, whether you are laser-focused on the acquisition of an important client or you just want to let your best employees know they are appreciated, you will need to have a clear idea of the outcome you are aiming for, before you set out to plan your incentive trip.
3. Be a trend-setter
Destinations, just like everything else, go in and out of fashion for multiple reasons. In recent years, some incentive travel destinations that were very much in demand up until the early 2000s, have declined in popularity because of political unrest, of the impact of natural disasters or of incidents that have specifically affected travellers. Several destinations in Northern Africa and the Middle-East, once perceived as safe, are now being avoided by international tourists. Those who were specifically looking for warm weather and seaside locations are now flocking to Southern Italy instead and, in General, the Italian peninsula has been gaining shares in the incentive travel market. While some destinations in Italy are arguably too popular, there are still plenty of hidden gems that are worth discovering before everyone else does. Rely on local experts to point you in the direction of amazing destinations that have not peaked on the market yet.
Incentive travel programs are a useful tool, they foster frank and open dialogue between corporate management and employees and they provide a much needed team-building experience. In order to make them as effective and as entertaining as possible, you will need to plan ahead and to work with reliable professionals in the travel industry.