An Expert’s Guide To Planning Incentive TravelSeptember 2, 2020

September 2, 2020

An Expert’s Guide To Planning Incentive Travel


Diane Ambrogio is an event planner for Paragon Events, a full-service meetings and events, association management  and marketing firm. Specializing in incentive travel, Ambrogio has supported and organized client programs for unique, international destinations. Venturing to more than 30 countries, she and the Paragon Events team design incredible experiences to motivate, reward and sustain employee performance for various global corporations. Visit


Whether large or small, local or international, incentive trips — when they return in full after the COVID-19 crisis — are guaranteed to have a positive impact within your organization. Incentive travel is a great way to motivate valuable employees and reward top performers. These programs can help to not only inspire your teams to increase sales, but also fortify employee satisfaction and loyalty. Careful planning and management are crucial to hosting a successful incentive program that gains momentum year after year.

Incentive travel management is one of our many areas of expertise and also one of our team’s favorite types of events to facilitate. The following tips will help produce an incentive program that suits your budget, reflects your company culture and produces favorable ROI.


The Incentive Research Foundation reports that 94% of executives at top-performing firms are strong supporters of incentive programs and consider them a competitive advantage. However, each company will have unique objectives for organizing an incentive program.

The first step in planning an incentive trip is to clearly establish and define your goals. This will help you to identify the target audience within your company. Once you determine the departments or key positions to incentivize, you can create internal qualification guidelines. This will also help you better measure your actual ROI later on. From experience, our clients often consider the following top objectives:

Increased sales.

Increased productivity.

Improved customer service.

Lower turnover and absenteeism.

Identifying some of these goals may also help to generate your program budget. How much is turnover costing your organization annually? Once winners meet the goals of the competition, how is that going to influence an increase in your overall sales revenue? Identifying these factors can help you delineate where to set your budget.

Generate Interest and Track Performance

Once you have set your objectives and outlined the requirements of qualifications, get people motivated. Create excitement around the event internally to drive participants to work toward meeting their benchmarks. Our team collaborates with our incentive clients to:

- Create engaging event branding to entice employees.

- Hold a grand unveiling of the destination and qualification requirements. Do this early to build anticipation and excitement.

- Maintain a schedule of internal communication to promote the trip and encourage employees to embrace the challenge.

Incentive Travel Risk Management

For any event, risk management plans are a necessity. As industry leaders in risk and crisis management, we assist our clients in developing emergency preparedness plans for their incentive programs. We recommend several health and safety measures throughout the event planning to ensure a smooth program flow. These include insurance, security, communication plans, destination research, and documentation of protocol for specific locations and venues.

Make Your Incentive Trip Worthwhile

Guiding you to select the ideal destination for your incentive trip is the best part of our job. Who wouldn’t enjoy researching the most fabulous way to reward people and experience destinations across the globe? Our team constantly has our fingers on the pulse of travel trends, unique hotels and off-the-radar locations.

Destination appeal is an important factor in holding your team’s motivation high. When selecting your incentive trip destination, there are several factors to keep in mind:

- Value of your currency. Will you be able to get enough bang for your buck? Are you traveling nationally or internationally?

- Tax benefits. Some destinations have little to no sales tax.

- Hotel loyalty. Does your company receive perks from a certain hotel brand for business travel? Member points can be a bonus for your attendees.

- Travel experience. It’s important to examine the safety and infrastructure of your destination. Consider the general activity level for attendees and make sure to distribute strong travel guidelines.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences

Creating highly memorable and authentic experiences is what incentive travel is all about. Trips build lasting memories, improve workplace camaraderie, and provide tangible experiences more valuable than money or cash bonuses. We strive to provide options to our clients that are unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Picture this:

- Swimming with whale sharks in the Maldives.

- Sleeping in glass igloos under the northern lights in Finland.

- Celebrating the full moon rise on the shores of Western Australia.

Currently, a trend we are seeing is allowing guests to select their activities in smaller groups to create a more personalized experience.

Immerse in Local Culture

When planning your incentive program be sure to incorporate the surrounding culture into your itinerary as much as possible. Travel is all about experiencing new cultures and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Measure Your Incentive Travel Success

Increased sales and productivity are major benefits of hosting an incentive program. There are several other benefits for your organization, including:

- Improved employee engagement.

- Positive relationship building between employees and management.

- Enhanced customer satisfaction.

- Increased mind share in the marketplace.

- Greater ability to recruit new employees and partners.

- Stronger brand compliance.

The value of these benefits must be carefully considered and held in high regard. While hard dollars are very important, engagement, growth and overall employee satisfaction can be defining factors for your organization.

It Doesn’t End On-Site

Once the incentive trip is over, keep the story going. Memories are built through reflection and reinforcement. Set up a post-event photo-sharing contest on social media. Those captured moments can be further used to motivate employees for next year’s trip. Share impressions with your team through recap messaging or a short video to emphasize the value of the experience.

Incentive programs have boundless benefits for an organization. Let us put these tools into action and build a successful initiative that you and your employees will look forward to each year. Reach out to our team to learn how incentive travel can enhance your company goals. | I&FMM |


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