Creating a good travel incentive program requires a lot of preparation. Many of the necessary preparatory steps are obvious: determine your budget, choose a destination, establish any activities the group will enjoy, etc. But there are other factors that are easy to forget, details you may only think of once you’re confronted with your failure to take them into account. If you want your trip reward to be successful for as many travelers as possible, consider the special requirements some participants may have.

Dietary Restrictions

One of the most common obstacles you’ll encounter is dietary restrictions. This is a pretty broad category, with some restrictions self-imposed and others health-related. But the reason for the restriction is a moot point—you want your trip to be accommodating for all, regardless of their dietary needs. Some common dietary restrictions:

  • Gluten allergies or preferences (e.g. celiac disease)
  • Vegan diets
  • Low sodium
  • Diabetic/low sugar
  • Lactose Intolerance


Anyone with any kind of allergy knows that an allergic reaction can totally ruin your day. Imagine winning a travel reward, only to have your experience ruined by allergies. This is a possibility to consider when creating your travel experience. Allergies can range from food to airborne illnesses.  For example:

  • Seafood or Related Allergies
  • Soy Allergies (tuna, cookies, energy bars, processed luncheon meats)
  • Egg Allergies (can include pasta, marshmallows, baked goods)
  • Mold Allergies (can include cheeses such as bleu cheese)
  • Nut allergies (can include gravy, salad dressing)
  • Tree Pollen and Hay Fever
  • Gluten (beer, Ice cream, potato chips, hot dogs, soup)

Health Issues

Health issues are another important consideration.  While some may seem obvious such as a heart attack some others can cause severe pain.  Some examples:

  • Heart issues or high blood pressure (extreme sports such as sky diving, white river rafting, etc.)
  • Joint issues such as arthritis (hiking especially over bumpy or steep terrain)
  • Asthma (Higher elevations, extreme environments such as very hot, cold, dry or wet climates may result in an asthma attack)
  • PTSD (sudden loud noises, very loud crowds, etc.)
  • Fibromyalgia (sensory issues to flashing lights, vibrations, touch, drastic temperatures)
  • Environmental illness (candles, perfumes/colognes, hairsprays, paint, carpets, cigarette smoke)

Religious Restrictions

While there are many important considerations relating to physical well-being, it’s also necessary to think about religious restrictions. These restrictions can take many forms, but you may encounter individuals who have specific needs relating to attire, diet, or time. Some things to consider:

  • Meat (including pork, lamb, beef)
  • Fish (including prawns, shellfish, sturgeon, turbot skate, shark, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Food prepared to certain religious guidelines (e.g. Kosher, Halal)
  • Fowl/Poultry (including chicken, turkey, geese, duck, birds of prey)
  • Dairy (including milk, butter, cheese, etc.)
  • Animal-Based Emulsifiers and Stabilizers (including gelatin, lard)
  • Allium vegetables (such as onions and garlic)
  • Caffeinated products (including tea, coffee, Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, etc.)
  • Brewed Products (beer, coffee, tea, etc.)
  • Alcohol (including beer, wine, wine coolers, mixed drinks, etc.)
  • Prayer (e.g. time of day, ritual cleansing, changing of clothing, specific location, etc.)
  • Attire (e.g. head covering, color, style, length)
  • Seasonality (be aware of any religious observance dates)


Alcohol is one of the difficult issues to manage in an incentive program.  Many winners (and their guests) expect to have an ample supply to go along with their leisure and luxury trip, and will be disappointed if there isn’t any present.  However, for the teetotalers present, they would rather not witness the tipsy co-workers (or their significant others) and would rather the money be spent elsewhere – such as on a good souvenir.   It’s a balancing act and one that can be hard to manage to keep everyone happy.

Surveying your participants early in the process can help narrow down preferences.  Additionally corporate culture can also play a role in determining the value system that’s most important in terms of where money is spent, including whether money should be spent on alcohol or making a donation to a charity in the name of the earners (for example.)

Other ways that the issue of alcohol can be addressed while planning incentive travel include:

  • Set ground rules – travel should be fun for everyone.
  • Per person limits — e.g. tokens such as drink per person per day
  • Time of day restrictions – e.g. to evening meal or night out
  • Dollar amount limits – e.g. Coupon books with a max amount
  • Intermingle fun – e.g. wine tasting, attend beer festival, etc.

Tip for tap – exchange unused tokens for a donation to a charity

What to Do?

It is clear that there are quite a few considerations that trip planners should deal with before the trip takes place. But awareness of these considerations is insufficient. What does one do with this knowledge? There are no simple, universal answers, but there are ways to make things easier.

For one thing, try using a questionnaire during the initial planning process. It could be fairly simple, just asking winners if they have any specific needs they’d like you to consider when creating the reward trip. Responses could be anonymous, but the goal would be to determine which needs should be factored in. If no one has any allergies or dietary restrictions, great! That’ll make things much simpler. But if those restrictions exist, it’s important to take them into account when creating your program.

In addition to seeking information during the planning phase, you can also address a lot of potential problems by giving winners more freedom and choices. It’s true that group activities are fun and beneficial, but they must be chosen carefully, factoring in all the variables we’ve mentioned above. Why not give winners some freedom? Don’t force every individual to do all the same things. You can choose a few specific group activities that work for everyone, but leave the rest of the time for individual freedom.

Whatever you decide, be sure that these special factors are on your radar. If you want your trip to be a hit with every winner, you can’t afford to turn a blind eye to the particular needs that the winners may have. When you consider the individual preferences and needs of your program winners, your trip will be much more likely to win their approval.

Still in the planning stages of your incentive program?  Contact Gavel International.  We can help make sure you have everything in place from start to finish.