What are the benefits of incentive travel programs & rewards?

Throughout America, Europe and Asia, budgets for incentive travel are growing as companies recognise the benefits and move away from monetary awards and mandated corporate events.

In this article, we learn why incentive travel programs are so popular and look at the benefits for both organisations and employees.

What are the benefits of incentive travel?

Corporate incentive travel programs have become increasingly popular as a way of achieving goals and rewarding top performers. As organisations recognise the benefits of incentive trips, allocated budgets have grown exponentially from 0.5% in 2018 to almost 6% in 2022.

So why have travel incentive programs become so popular? And what makes them preferable over traditional monetary rewards?

Benefits of incentive travel for employers

At one time, organisations would disregard incentive travel programs because they considered them to be exuberant and unnecessary with little tangible value. 

But that school of thought is on the way out.

Leading companies now agree that incentive travel programs are highly effective with a measurable ROI.

Benefits of incentive travel for employees

Despite the obvious joy of a free holiday, incentive travel initiatives provide many benefits for employees:

Why are incentive travel programs so effective?

People value experiences more than things, that’s what makes incentive travel programs so effective.

The prospect of jetting off on a five-day trip to Hawaii with friends and colleagues is much more appealing than a cash bonus, and once word starts to spread about a potential holiday in the tropics, excitement in the office will build quickly.

This buzz is fundamental to the effectiveness of an employee incentive program — nobody wants to be left behind while the rest of the team packs their swimming trunks. This motivates the potential earner to work harder to meet the criteria for the trip.

In the IRF’s June 2021 study, The Impact of Destination Choice on Motivation, they reported that group incentive travel awards are considered ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ motivating by 80% of survey respondents.

Why monetary rewards don’t help you meet your company goals

Traditionally, managers would motivate behaviours with monetary rewards. But now, 84% of U.S. businesses are using non-cash incentives to push their agendas and as many as 40% are using recognising employee contributions with travel rewards.

That’s because cash rewards aren’t effective motivators. Sure, nobody is going to turn down a juicy end-of-year bonus, but they aren’t sufficient for encouraging new behaviours.

Cash is fleeting. It generates temporary pleasure that’s almost immediately squandered on mundane responsibilities like mortgage payments, credit card debts and utility bills. It’s also extremely personal and doesn’t generate excitement at a group level. 

To turn a mid-level performer into a top-level performer, the reward needs to be highly attractive, like a long weekend in Athens, perhaps?

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