7 Ways to Revamp Incentive TravelApril 1, 2018

April 1, 2018

7 Ways to Revamp Incentive Travel

Anonson,Jill-ITAGroup-1-110x140Jill Anonson is Events Solution Manager at ITA Group and has more than 20 years of experience in strategic incentive travel, event management and sales strategy. In her role, she is responsible for market definition, competitive research, business plan development and more while creating strategies and solutions that help ITA Group thrive. ITA Group creates and manages incentives, events and recognition programs that align and motivate people. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, ITA Group has operations in every region of the United States and award solutions for 75+ countries globally. Contact her at www.itagroup.com.

Your incentive travel destination — the same tried-and-true resort every year — revs up a mild amount of excitement on your team. The onsite giveaway hasn’t really changed in a decade or so, but everyone could use another beach towel…right? And the flyers in the break room about the program get the job done, more or less.

The whole thing works well enough, and you seem to get some results. So why rock the boat? The answer: you could be getting a lot more out of your people. And you could be getting more out of your program.

If you’re not paying close attention to the strategic details that make up your program — way more than just the destination and giveaways — you’re missing an incredible opportunity to boost results.

Are you ready to take your incentive travel program from good to great? Take a deeper look at these seven actionable ways to revamp it and elevate the measurable ROI.

1. Get Strategic

At the core of every effective incentive travel program is a strategy. Being able to analyze and really get to the heart of the results of your program is imperative to its success. If you’re looking to optimize the ROI, your strategy can’t stay the same from year to year. It needs ongoing analysis — a thorough look into your goals and the steps needed to get there — to ensure consistent growth.

Think of it this way: if the same 10 people have been qualifying for your trip for the last decade, you’re not pushing them hard enough. The target should be increasingly difficult to hit, yet still attainable. The strategy and profit lies in finding the sweet spot between “no problem” and “that’s impossible!”

With a custom-crafted incentive travel solution tailored to your audience — and with strategy at the helm of your program — it’s easier to get more out of your people.

2. Remember Incentive Travel Participant Demographics

Your people are all unique, with different motivators and unique interests. And younger generations are storming into your office at breakneck speed. Does your incentive travel program reflect that?

According to a study from Eventbrite, 78 percent of millennial respondents say they would rather spend money on an experience versus a material possession. Travel is important to them, but only if it’s on their terms. They’re not always thrilled by rubbing elbows with the other participants. Likely, given the opportunity, millennials would rather rent a car and drive through the mountains of Hawaii than hobnob with coworkers on the beach.

It’s all about choice — cast a wider net by giving participants the option of doing what they would prefer to do.

3. Consider the Whole Family

Incentive travel participants work hard for the privilege of going on the trip. That can mean missed Little League games and a lot of late nights at the office. For those reasons, your incentive travel trip isn’t just for participants. It’s also for the spouses and kids who supported them along the way.

The option of a family-focused program, in addition to the more common two-person trip, is key to the many participants who hope to bring the whole family along. With this option, people who don’t want to be with kids don’t have to be. And, for those who do bring the kids along, provide camps, buffets with kids’ food and more.

4. Consider an Incentive Travel Provider

Perhaps your incentive travel program has been run in-house for years. Someone books the plane tickets, and you rope in an intern to help set up hotel rooms and book restaurant reservations.

Clearly, there is a better way. A high-quality incentive travel provider can help with the logistics — travel, lodging and food — and then some. They have exclusive access to a host of private, high-class experiences that you couldn’t get otherwise.

Dinner under Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy? Can do. Backstage passes to the hottest entertainment? Check. Pit passes to a Formula One race? Sure thing! An incentive travel program provider, working behind the scenes, creates an unparalleled experience that you couldn’t necessarily put together on your own.

5. Think About Gifting

Everyone loves to get a little gift in their hotel room when they arrive onsite. It’s a great perk that really resonates with your participants, especially if it’s a surprise. Yet unless that gift really hits home, it’s liable to be left in the hotel room. If you’ve been a top sales performer and have been on the trip a number of times, there are only so many beach bags you can handle.

Ponder this: if you were going on this trip, what would make your experience better? Think outside the box — but not too outside the box. An unwieldy gift, however much the participant likes it, can get left behind.

Also, consider giving your participants an opportunity to pick their gift in an onsite experience. When they can pick a high-ticket gift while their peers look on, there’s a social element that can’t be underestimated.

6. Give Back to Gain Emotional Connection

For many people, incentive travel means beaches, piña coladas and steak dinners.

But, for others — millennials especially — it means an opportunity to make a difference somewhere outside their backyard.

Volunteer experiences are growing in prevalence in incentive travel. Why? Because, as a recent Time magazine article noted, 65 percent of MBAs say they want to make a social or environmental difference through their jobs, and 70 percent of millennials say a company’s commitment to the community has an influence on their decision to work there.

Work with a local charity at your destination to see what opportunities there are to give back. Whether that means helping out the environment, working with kids or something else, participants will walk away with a greater understanding of the world around them and an irreplaceable experience.

7. Focus on FOMO

Booking a photographer to document your trip can be a worthy investment. There’s nothing more inspiring and motivating to the people who didn’t make the trip than seeing their colleagues leisurely enjoying themselves on the beach. That’s FOMO — fear of missing out. It’s the social pull that drives your people, and it’s something your event needs to succeed. Getting great photos of your attendees can be used in powerful communications leading up to your next event, building brand immersion and reiterating recognition throughout the year.

While revamping your program, keep in mind that there’s far more to incentive travel than a destination. The opportunity is a chance to connect with and inspire your people along the way. Through these seven simple steps, you can create more strategic, authentic travel solutions that inspire growth, loyalty and ROI. C&IT

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