Incentive Travel: Rewarding your top producers

In 2020 and 2021, many companies moved away from incentive travel and chose to send care packages to their top employees. Others offered additional PTO, to be spent however the employees chose. And while these were the best that most companies could do in a closed-down world, a recent study shows that employees are ready (and excited) to be rewarded with a company-sponsored trip.

As The Great Resignation continues to make headlines, smart leaders are taking advantage of incentive travel to reward their sales team or employees for a job well done — and as a way to build loyalty and minimize team turnover. Here’s what you should know if you are planning to offer incentive travel in the next year or two.

Spend your money wisely

The 2022 IRF Destination Preferences Study, which asked 405 salespeople to rank their thoughts on incentive travel, destinations and other awards, showed that 91% of respondents are once again highly motivated by the potential of group incentive travel. In 2021, that number was just 80%.

While this nearly-universal positive response indicates that incentive travel is a fantastic reward to consider, it’s also important to recognize the respondents’ other top feedback:

  • They are also looking for ample time to relax (87%)
  • They want the ability to bring their spouse or partner (80%)

This means that if, in the past, you offered employee-only trips to a large group of people, or purchased add-on activities and pushed for an action-packed schedule, you may want to reconsider that plan this year.

By minimizing the number of activities you offer, you may be able to offset the cost of the trip to allow your employees to bring their significant others — meaning that you can boost the overall appeal of the trip for all, without doubling your own cost.

Select the best location for your team

One thing that hasn’t changed much in the IRF study is the desire for beach travel, which was the number one ranked preference among respondents. Adventure travel and mountain-based locations ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Another thing to note is that wellness spas jumped quite a bit in the rankings in 2022, indicating that even as people attempt to “return to normal,” they are also still reeling from the impacts of the last few years and have a deep desire to relax and reset when given the chance.

For companies who aren’t sure if their employees would prefer “adventure travel” or a “wellness spa,” we at T3 Events Group have great news for you: Plenty of incentive travel locations have options where your employees can choose the trip that’s best suited for their needs. That means that by selecting a location with more flexibility of programming, you can provide each of your employees with a trip that would be most meaningful to them.

Ask your employees what they want, and follow their lead

One last thing I noticed in the IRF study was that the most common incentive travel destinations were not the ones that the respondents had ranked as their top preferences. Looking at the below table, it’s easy to see that the most commonly booked destinations were in less-expensive areas, including Mexico and the domestic U.S. Those that were ranked higher by respondents were, largely, island destinations or more expensive domestic U.S. cities.

CVENT Top 20 Booked Destinations

Chart courtesy of IRF

At T3 Events Group, we recognize that budget is a very important factor when developing incentive travel plans. We also have a vast list of contacts in the travel world, meaning that we may have packages and travel options in that “1st tier” that rival the “2nd tier” pricing options you could find on your own.

My recommendation to all business leaders who are in charge of incentive travel is to ask their employees what would be most appealing, and then follow their lead. In many cases, there are packaging and destinations that match your employees’ top preference and fall in your defined budget. If you’re looking for a win-win with your incentive travel, I encourage you to reach out today for a private, no-obligation discussion. Whether you book through T3 Events Group or not, we are here to help you determine the best path forward with your incentive travel.

T3 Events Group can help you today!