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In an era of tight labor markets, companies need to get creative in order to attract and retain employees. Incentive travel programs are an innovative way to make your company an appealing option for top sales, account management, and customer service talent. Incentive travel programs are contests used by businesses to reward their top-performing employees. Travel incentives can be used in conjunction with, or in place of, other incentive programs such as cash bonuses, gift cards, event tickets, and luxury merchandise.

What is incentive travel?

Incentive travel involves using travel to motivate and reward employees for their performance and consistency. Travel incentives can be applied to individual or group performance.

Incentive trips can have a major impact on a business by acting as a powerful motivational tool for employees. Compared to cash and other non-cash rewards, travel as an incentive stands out. Corporate travel incentives offer numerous benefits over other incentive programs and are attractive to employees in ways other programs are not. Great experiences are rare–and that’s what travel is: a one-of-a-kind, personal experience that cannot be duplicated. An extraordinary experience is just the thing for ambitious individuals who strive to be extraordinary in their professional lives.

Businesses that already partner with a travel management company have an opportunity to leverage this relationship and access great incentive trip options. A corporate travel advisor can help you craft an incentive program that will wow both employees and C-suite executives.

How does incentive travel work?

Incentive Program Structure

On the business side of things, travel incentive programs work like any other incentive program. Each year (or month, or quarter) your organization sets goals. You want to incentivize reaching those goals. The goal should be difficult to reach, with only a small percentage of employees (or even a single individual) earning it. Travel as an incentive can reward a team’s top performers, with only a select few reaching said goals.

In setting up an incentive program, you might create a reward contingency for those whose performance places them in a certain percentile vs. a pre-determined value like total number of sales or the total value of sales. No matter how they are structured, incentives should be exclusive, reserved for only those who reach a set performance threshold.

Incentive Program Organization

There are a number of ways to organize incentive travel programs to maximize employee motivation. Reward groups or entire business divisions to accelerate productivity and performance. Cover the travel expenses of a top performer’s family members so that they can enjoy the trip together.

You might use a travel voucher, a coupon that can be redeemed by those who earn the incentive on any travel they’d like. Or, you can work with a travel advisor to plan the perfect trip, from the destination to the hotel to the time of year. Focus on delivering authentic and memorable experiences that get employees excited about the program long term.

Travel Incentive Program Benefits

Pre-planning a vacation gives your incentive program the type of tangible reward that is shown to have a significant effect on employee motivation and performance. When a prize is easy to visualize, it allows employees to clearly imagine the fruits of their labor. If there’s only one trip to be won, it creates a sense of scarcity that people can find highly motivating.

What types of travel make for great incentives?

There isn’t necessarily one type of trip that makes a better incentive than others. Nor does the dollar value of the trip necessarily matter. Building a travel incentive program is an opportunity to get creative and apply knowledge of your team’s members and make-up to devise an incentive program that’s meaningful and motivating for them.

There are plenty of possibilities to choose from. Some incentive travel examples include:

  • Cruises
  • River cruises
  • Island getaways
  • Ski trips
  • Beach resorts
  • International excursions
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Team retreats

An experienced corporate travel advisor can guide you through designing and executing a travel incentive program that helps you reach your business goals.

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