About Incentive Travel
What is Incentive Travel?
Incentive travel boosts employee productivity, loyalty, and morale by awarding top performers with an all-expenses-paid travel reward. Incentive travel programs exist to motivate employees and increase productivity and sales.
Are your travel incentive programs restricted to only company employees?
Not at all. We often use the term “employees” because it is easier to address when discussing FAQs in the broad sense. However, we can support most any incentive program regardless who may be the reward winners. For example, we can help you with dealer network, agency network, distributors, etc. incentive travel programs as well.
What is the Psychology Behind Incentive Travel Rewards?
Travel incentive programs are based on the underlying premise that employees will be inspired by a desirable external motivator. If they are offered a reward that they find valuable, they will be motivated to obtain this reward through time, effort, and hard work. A reward that is both valuable and attainable, such as an all-expenses-paid travel opportunity for top performers, will produce greater productivity.
For more information on the psychology of travel incentives, check out this article: The Psychology of Incentives
What’s the Difference Between Travel Incentive Rewards and Other Types of Rewards?
Financial rewards such as bonuses, cash, and merchandise are common rewards, but far less effective than non-cash incentives. The Incentive Research Foundation discovered that travel is the most preferred award for high-producing employees.1 Other research conducted by the Incentive Travel Council and the Site International Foundation found that more than 95% of employees believe they are more motivated by travel incentives than by higher pay levels.2 Furthermore, 72% of people who earn a travel reward feel increased loyalty to their company.3 But if that doesn’t convince you, consider the fact that a well-crafted travel incentive program can increase productivity by 18% and produce a 112% ROI.4 If you wanted to achieve that kind of success with a cash incentive, you’d need to increase your employees’ base compensation by a staggering 8.5%!5
How Do I Launch an Incentive Travel Program?
If you’re looking to launch a successful travel incentive program, there are nine stages to follow:
- Goals and KPIs: What are you aiming for? What specific metric goals are you trying to reach?
- Pre-Planning: This is the stage for focus groups. What incentive will most motivate your employees? What kinds of problems might your program run into?
- Measures: How will you measure, monitor and track progress as well as success?
- Eligibility: Who will be eligible for the program? What goals or measures must they obtain to “win” the prize?
- Messaging: How will you announce the program? What do eligible participants need to know? How will you promote it and get participates excited? How will you keep participants motivated?
- Launch: What are your plans for the day of launch? Who will be involved and why?
- Reward: Location scouting and planning should include consideration of the information gleaned from your focus groups. There are definite risks to attempting this stage without the help of a professional (see Agency vs. DIY section below).
- Recognition: This is when you issue the reward. It’s worth having a ceremony of some kind—the winners should be recognized publicly.
- Feedback: After the program is complete, be sure to talk to participants and winners to get their feedback. What was their experience like? What did they think of the reward? Were they sufficiently motivated?
The Value of Incentive Travel
People often wonder what it is that makes incentive travel valuable. What’s in it for me? Why is it worth pursuing? There are seven primary elements that make travel incentive programs worthwhile.
- Increases Sales Objectives: Whether you’re looking to gain new customers, sell more of a specific product or service, or bring in more revenue from existing clients, incentive programs are a proven means of achieving these goals.
- Increases Morale: The promise of a desirable destination gives employees something to be excited about, as well as something to work toward. It keeps them engaged, and promotes healthy competition and motivation.
- Promotes Business Objectives Long-term: These programs aren’t about getting a short burst of increased sales. They create patterns of effort and behavior that will last.
- Encourages Loyalty: Top performers who get results risk being stolen away by competitors. Travel programs are a great way to reward these performers with something truly unique and memorable. As was noted earlier, 72% of people who earn a travel reward will feel increased loyalty to their company.
- Motivates Mediocre Performers: People who produce consistently sub-par or average numbers without growth need motivation. Travel incentives offer a great motivational boost, and even if these people don’t win they’ve still improved. Like we mentioned earlier, a good travel incentive program can boost productivity by as much as 18%!
- Attracts Quality New Hires: New hires want to know what’s in it for them, especially if they have a sense of their own skill. Give them something they can work toward and be eligible for. Providing an exciting travel opportunity will set your company apart from other businesses that only offer cash incentives.
- Spotlights Poor Performers: Sometimes it can be difficult to identify employees who are under-performing. Incentive programs help illuminate those who need extra attention or coaching.
What is the ROI of Incentive Travel?
You may have a good idea for an incentive program, but the bottom line is that your ROI has to make it worthwhile. Travel incentives have particularly good ROI. For example, Aberdeen Research found that companies providing non-cash rewards like incentive travel had an average year-over-year annual corporate revenue increase of 9.6%, against the 3% increase for companies providing cash rewards.6 The same research also found that organizations providing non-cash rewards had a 2.1% year-over-year increase in revenue, while the others saw a 0.7% decrease. Add to that the aforementioned fact that incentive travel programs can produce an ROI of up to 112%, and it’s abundantly clear that travel incentive programs are worth the investment.
- What is the typical size of an incentive event?
- There isn’t an easy answer to this question, because our clients range from small performance-driven organizations to Fortune 500 companies. What all our clients have in common, however, is their recognition of the value of travel incentives, and the desire to reward top performers and motivate mediocre performers.
- What is the average cost of a travel incentive reward per winner?
- The answer to this question depends on your budget, the number of people involved, and other factors. However, a recent study by the Incentive Research Foundation found that top-performing companies put forward an average of $3,916 in non-cash rewards per employee.7
- What industries work best with travel incentive programs?
- Travel incentive programs work for virtually any organization with ongoing goals and objectives. If you want to invest in your employees and motivate them to bigger and better things, travel incentives are for you.
- What kinds of goals can travel incentives help to accomplish?
- We can work with you to help meet your company’s goals, but here are some common examples:
i. Increasing revenue
ii. Selling more of a particular product or service
iii. Improving customer satisfaction benchmarks/KPIs
iv. Faster resolution of technical support or customer support issues
v. Improving productivity and/or reducing errors such as those in production lines
vi. Reducing corporate waste (overhead, accounts receivables, making those in accounting get more from vendors/stretching budget, etc.)
vii. Ensuring safety or minimizing workplace injuries
viii. Healthy worker initiatives (reducing insurance costs such as through weight loss, getting to the gym weekly, preventative care, etc.)
- What are current travel incentive trends?
- Unforgettable Experiences: Employees are looking for a unique, memorable opportunity. They want some experience that they can’t get elsewhere, so travel incentive programs are making it a priority to find exciting destinations with creative opportunities.
- Freedom and Flexibility: Some winners enjoy a travel opportunity filled with interesting planned activities, but others prefer more flexibility. Many programs attempt to give those winners the freedom to explore their surroundings and choose their own means of relaxation.
- Wellness Travel: In a society that is increasingly aware of the importance of good health, many employees seek out incentive programs that will leave them healthier and more refreshed. Outdoor adventures, fitness and wellness class, and spa days are all popular options.
- Networking Opportunities: For some, company getaways are just as much about professional advancement as they are about relaxation. Some employees want the chance to rub shoulders with other industry insiders, network, and talk shop in a more relaxed environment.
- What destinations can I travel to?
- Virtually anywhere in the world! Winners love destinations that are unique and exciting, but we also ensure you won’t be flying into any unsafe locations.
- Do I need to know what destination I am planning to go to?
- No, Gavel will help identify a suitable location based on demographics of your winners, your budget, and other factors.
- Who are your some of your vendors—hotels, airlines, etc.?
- Gavel is proud to have established many relationships around the world, but who we work with for a specific program will depend on your destination. In most cases we have relationships with:
ii. Ground transportation
iv. Unique event venues
v. Local hotspots/tourism/shopping
vi. Entertainment sources/local events
vii. Cultural experiences
viii. Other destination partners
- We’ve already started making plans internally; can I still work with Gavel?
- Absolutely! Give our sales team a call at 800.544.2835
- Who is generally eligible for incentive travel rewards?
- This depends on your organization, your goals, who will be participating, and other factors. Gavel would love to help you with this planning.
- How much should I budget per winner?
- This will depend on your overall budget and the number of winners. However, the previously-mentioned study by the Incentive Research Foundation found that top-performing companies put forward an average of $3,916 in non-cash rewards for each winner.
Agency Expertise and Experience
- What does a travel incentive company do?
- We’ll work with you to create a travel incentive program that fits your specific needs and goals. We’ll help determine what it will take to motivate your employees, then select a destination, arrange lodging and activities, and take care of logistical and administrative matters. We can create kick-off announcements and promotional campaigns as well. But when it’s finally time for your trip to take place, we’ll have staff on-site with you to make sure everything runs smoothly.
- Should I outsource my travel incentive program or do it in-house?
- If you’re on the fence about whether or not to try making a program yourself, consider these guidelines for when to utilize outside help:
i. When you lack buying power
ii. When you don’t have the time or staff resources to plan, scout locations, etc.
iii. When you have the destination connections necessary for participants to be able to enjoy the full cultural experience
iv. When you’re unsure where savings can be made without impacting the event’s quality
v. When you’re inexperienced with risk mitigation
vi. When you don’t know what details you’re missing
vii. When you’re not experienced with contract clauses and review
viii. When you don’t have a crisis plan in case of emergencies
ix. When you need extra support services during the event
- What value can Gavel bring that we can’t do in-house?
- While it’s true that elements of an incentive program can be performed in-house, there are also many downsides to not using a professional travel incentive service. Here are some of the ways Gavel would make your job easier:
i. Goals and Challenges: Gavel will work closely with you to fully understand your goals and challenges, including the challenges of meeting your attendee goals. In many cases we understand the target’s ‘desires’ (whether meetings or incentives) better than our clients, given our experience in the industry.
ii. Evaluating and Offering Locations: We have long-term relationships with hundreds of destinations around the world, thanks to our 30+ years of experience. We know how to meet your needs and desires with the place that is right for you. Plus, we’ll always work within your budget, or help create your budget if needed.
iii. Unique Activities: We know your program’s success depends on whether you can create a unique and memorable experience for participants. We have highly creative account and program managers who lead our internal team, people who are ‘in-the-know’ about the latest exciting activities and where to find them.
iv. Organizing Seamless Communications: Our clients tell us that Gavel excels at organization. Making sure you and your attendees have the information needed, and have easy access to it, is our specialty. You’ll learn about the Gavel Edge proprietary technology system shortly.
v. Achieving Successful Events: We think of every contingency to ensure your meeting or travel incentive is successful. We’re available 24/7 to make sure everything runs smoothly. Since we have ‘seen it all’, we are ready to help you—and chances are, we have a solution. What’s more, our account and program managers are trained in security issues and crisis management, so we’re prepared for any emergencies that could arise.
For more information on the benefits of going with Gavel instead of a DIY approach, head over to our article here: What DIY Travel Incentive Programs Really Cost
Examples and Outcomes
- Who are your clients, and what outcomes have they achieved?
- Our clients come from a variety of industries. Regardless of the size or expertise of their business, they’re all looking for the quality and dedication Gavel offers. If you’d like to read some real-world stories and outcomes, head over to our Case Studies page: http://www.gavelintl.com/case-studies/
- Do you have any reviews or testimonials?
- Yes. Visit our testimonials page here.