While the economy continues to improve, new industry reports confirm what we’ve already seen: Incentive travel programs are making a comeback – slowly and steadily. The reason why is simple: they work!
Companies recognize that an incentive trip is an effective tool to motivate and reward superior performance, strengthen relationships, increase brand/company loyalty, and retain top talent. (Pictured right: Incentive group on Hapag-Lloyd Europa deck)
In order to hone in on current and projected trends and identify elements most critical to successful group travel incentive programs, we looked at several studies, including the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) 2013 Spring Pulse Survey and the Site International Foundation’s white paper Incentive Travel: The Smart Business Proposition.
By all accounts, the outlook is “optimistic stability” – budgets are holding steady or slightly increasing while planners are challenged to create still more unique, “wow” experience.
Fireworks display during Norwegian Breakaway cruise
Here’s what else we uncovered (but already knew):
Destination is key to motivation
The IRF Spring Pulse Survey found that the Caribbean was the top regional destination among the planning professionals surveyed (32%), followed closely by Europe (31%). But exotic, off-the-beaten path, and adventure travel is a growing incentive trend, driven by participants’ desires to experience something they could not do on their own. We’re seeing more companies requesting experiential, “bucket list”cruise destinations for their incentives, including Asia, Northern Europe & Baltic, river cruises in Eastern Europe, Mekong River cruises, and Galapagos expeditions.
The cruise connection: One of the many benefits of a cruise incentive is that participants visit several different ports with the added convenience of only having to pack/unpack once. Why settle for one exotic destination, when you can give your participants several? Each day is a new adventure!
Wind Spirit sailing in Tahiti
Consider a river cruise – participants can walk right off the vessel into the heart of towns and cities – no motorcoaches or taxis required. River cruises, destination-focused premium lines and smaller boutique ships or yachts often include long stays and overnights in ports, providing opportunities for in-depth cultural experiences.
Add More Wows
Attendees are seeking wow experiences, and meeting planners are challenged to deliver more memorable moments – often with already stretched-thin budgets. Active adventures, cultural immersion, jaw-dropping entertainment, adrenaline-charged teambuilding events and creative culinary experiences will motivate them to reach challenging work goals.
SeaDream Yacht Club Champagne & Caviar Splash
Cruise Connection: If you want to include more Wow experiences for less, take a look at a few of the amazing things your participants can do during a cruise (that they can’t do on land) – walk a plank jutting over the open seas, experience first-at-sea virtual skydiving, enjoy an elegant “Champagne and Caviar Splash” served in the surf, or sail around tropical paradise islands on your own privately chartered sailing yacht. Read all about these and other unforgettable incentive cruise experiences.
More leisure time, please
According to the Site study, more than 70% of incentive qualifiers favored fewer mandatory company functions to be more motivating, and 74.5% called for more time at leisure. This is especially important when you’re planning multi-generational programs. Adding more white space between planned functions also gives your participants time to connect with each other, share common interests, and form deeper relationships.
- Icy Strait Zip Line Used with permission of Icy Strait Point and Huna totem Corporation.
Cuise Connection: Our clients – and their incentive qualifiers – appreciate the variety of activities and recreational facilities on cruise ships – there is truly something for everyone to enjoy on board – from world-class spas and state-of-the-art fitness centers to enrichment classes and multi-level sports decks.
While in port, they can choose from dozens of shore excursions – everything from walking, art, and culinary tours; to more active adventures like mountain biking, parasailing, and snorkeling.
Planning for Multiple Generations
For the first time in history, the American workforce now includes four generations of employees – representing a 50-year age span. The one-size incentive program just won’t cut it! Meeting planners must adapt new strategies to motivate performance across a wide swath of age groups, and their incentive destination has to appeal to all.
Celebrity Infinity Observation Lounge
Cruise Connection: With a variety of entertainment, dining, sports facilities and unique spaces to meet and socialize – all included – cruise ships are perfect venues for your multi-generational incentive participants. Golfing tournaments in the Caribbean and pampering ship spas may increase motivation among the Boomers; while built-in family fun and shared experiences with friends and colleagues might appeal to your 30 and 40-somethings. Heart-pumping shipboard activities like extreme rock climbing and ropes courses, along with trendy nightclubs and bars will motivate your younger Millennial employees.
The Site Foundation’s 4-part study Incentive Travel: The Participant’s Viewpoint revealed that 60.2% of participants surveyed said the opportunity to interact with high-level executives had motivational value. When planning your incentive program, make sure you provide the space to build relationships and stronger connections with peers and colleagues,
Cruise Connection: Ships provide a self-contained environment with complimentary venues for meetings, dining, entertainment and sports – ideal for building relationships. Being at sea fosters a spirit of camaraderie and provides opportunities for deeper connections that just aren’t possible on land. Serendipitous encounters on deck, casual meetups in lounges, and sharing meals and nightlife together are all ways your participants will connect and bond with each during their incentive cruise.
Ready to begin planning your incentive cruise? Find your perfect ship and itinerary on Seasite.com.
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