‘Recovery is progressing, programme design is evolving and there is increased interest in new destinations.’ That’s the latest view published in the Incentive Travel Index, revealing that, overall, the incentive travel industry is strong.

An incentive is about ensuring a great employee experience is delivered, yet it’s also about being more relevant to your business objectives than ever, with talent attraction and retention a critical component in achieving business efficiency. And you can have as flexible a programme as suits your business’ priorities and budgets.

We asked Atlanta Corporate Travel and Events, part of the Reed & Mackay family in Spain, to highlight key areas to integrate into your upcoming incentive travel programmes to ensure a successful return on investment.

1)     Wellbeing

Wellbeing was an emerging trend before the pandemic. But it’s even clearer today that taking care of their mental health and physical wellbeing is increasingly a priority for employees.

Incentives may once not have included much free time for attendees. Now, consider including a free afternoon in the programme, or host a relaxing activity such as yoga or pilates. And, as with all group travel, consider how employees feel when planning activities. What are the different levels of ability, tastes and physical conditions among participants?

2)     Embrace company culture

A good incentive trip should be relevant to your business goals. So forget about proposing a trip to New York if it doesn’t connect with them. As well as being a unique trip to reward top-performing employees, the incentive is a company event.

From decorative elements – such as food items with the company logo, decorations in corporate colours – to a tailor-made storytelling session that resonates with your business’ values, your incentive can be more successful if it’s based around the heart of the company and its current priorities.

3)     Personalise the itinerary

Companies are increasingly looking to offer their employees a tailored experience, whether that involves gifts or activities they enjoy. For example, not everyone will enjoy a helicopter flight or be interested in meditation. Consider proposing itineraries with several options available for individual activities, while maintaining some group activities for team building. The latest requirements for event customisation include exclusive experiences, flexibility, communication and personalised content and service. 

4)     Encourage networking

Offering unique experiences to your incentive attendees is important. However, never forget that, like any event, an incentive is a group trip. It’s designed to foster strong working relationships and improve employee engagement.

And its real value is more than creating a memory of an idyllic destination. It should be about what has been experienced as a group. The incentive is the perfect tool through which to foster team spirit and get to know each other better. In addition to enjoying the scheduled activities, giving the team longer breaks between activities will allow them to build strong bonds.

5)     Integrate technology

Active interaction, participation and employee satisfaction are among the main objectives of incentives. And technology has proven to be a great tool to encourage this. Technology allows you to further personalise the incentive. Integrating an app for your event means you can run group messages, share photos and provide updated itinerary information.

However, it’s worth considering that while technology has its place, it has the potential to isolate people. Propose some tech-free moments: experiencing the sunset at a beautiful location is best enjoyed without a smartphone.

6)     Introduce responsible travel

Weave your company’s sustainable and ethical values throughout the trip. You could include activities that support the local community, such as beach cleans or helping to renovate a school.

Deliver the ‘local experience’ to your attendees, such as dining on local produce or booking sessions with a local artisan or artist. Furthermore, activities that promote social, environmental and conservation awareness can deliver on the wellbeing aspect for your attendees too, as well as strengthen employee bonds.

Also consider where your attendees are travelling from. Could you consider an incentive destination that they can reach via rail travel, as you work towards cutting carbon emissions? Even if it’s to a place they’ve visited before, reinvent the destination so they enjoy it in a new way.