There are a number of differences between strong incentive programs and weak ones, but the most significant one is the long-term effects. A poor incentive program (typically cash incentives) will have a negligible effect on participants’ behavior, if there’s any effect at all. A successful program (such as non-cash programs like travel), however, creates lasting change. It’s not just about the bottom line—strong incentive programs change behavior. Here are some of the biggest ways travel incentives create long-term changes.

Increased Productivity

Many, if not most, incentive programs exist to increase productivity. The award of travel can help improve productivity by giving participants something to strive to achieve. This boost in productivity doesn’t need to end with the conclusion of the program. Habits developed during the course of the qualifying period should continue on well past the contest’s completion. Management should come alongside participants and encourage those habits until they become permanent methodology and behaviors. Furthermore, qualifiers will return to work with a desire to win again, and those who didn’t win will see what a good experience the trip was and work to earn the next trip.

Increased Trust

Any good travel incentive program offers a destination that will truly interest and excite participants. To create this kind of program, management must know their participants. They must care about what will motivate people, and take the time to learn what participants want. This effort can greatly build employee trust. It shows that management cares about rewarding good work, and providing a reward that participants genuinely want. This is the kind of management that employees want to trust. What’s more, the program itself—not just the destination selection—is a chance to earn employee trust. It’s a chance to show that employees really, truly matter, that their thoughts and interests are worth hearing. It also emphasizes behaviors that have positive impact on both employees and the organization as a whole.  The best managers will seek employee input before, during, and after the contest is completed. Participants, in turn, feel valued and listened to, which increases their trust in their management and in the effectiveness and desirability of the incentive program.

Improved Morale

Good incentive programs also boost group morale. When your workplace offers exciting programs that promise a memorable reward, it makes showing up to work a little easier. People have a better attitude about their career when they know that hard work is amply rewarded. Winners return with a renewed vigor, and their good spirits make for a happier workplace overall.

Increased Loyalty

A successful travel incentive will also develop lasting loyalty. Companies offering travel incentives will have an easier time retaining employees than identical companies that don’t offer such incentives. A good incentive program adds an element of excitement to the workday, which makes for a more desirable workplace. The numbers don’t lie: research conducted by the Incentive Travel Council and the Site International Foundation found that 72% of people who earn a travel reward feel increased loyalty to their company.1

Increased Desire for Further Incentive Programs

One of the nice things about incentive travel is that a successful trip opens the door for additional programs. Let’s say you’ve never implemented a travel incentive program before, but pull off both a memorable experience – and exceed business objectives – your first time around. Winners will come back with a desire to earn another enjoyable, unforgettable trip as soon as they can. Not only that, those who didn’t win will see the winners’ good experience and want the chance to earn a similar experience for themselves.

Conclusion

Travel incentive programs are a great way to energize your company, not just with a short burst of enthusiasm, but with a lasting influence. A well-executed travel experience ends up improving productivity, trust, morale, loyalty, and the effectiveness of future incentive programs. Not only that, a good travel incentive program can produce a 112% ROI2. Incentive travel can improve both employee behavior and company profits—an effective trip has advantages that you’ll observe well past the end of your program.

For more information about Gavel International’s travel incentive programs contact us.

1 http://www.businessinsider.com/paid-vacation-motivates-better-than-cash-2013-11
2 http://theirf.org/research/measuring-the-roi-of-sales-incentive-programs/175/

Peter