Top 10 Incentive Travel Trends and Ideas for Your Colleagues

Staff writer – March 23, 2018

How to create lasting memories and company loyalty through incredible experiences.

It’s no secret that cultivating company loyalty through rewards and incentives has a profound positive impact on businesses in any industry. When people feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work, they’re more likely to keep working hard for you. Almost 40% of companies are using incentive travel to recognize exemplary work, and employees are eating it up. With social media being such a large part of everyday life, incentive trips and experiences have become a badge of prestige shared far and wide. This is both a blessing and a curse to incentive planners. Your company’s good name and reputation can either be improved or tarnished based on the quality of the incentive travel experiences you provide.

With so many options available, there’s a lot of pressure to plan the perfect rewarding and engaging experience for colleagues, partners, and employees. But you won’t need to worry about planning your incentive trips alone. With our top ten list of the best incentive travel trends and ideas, you’ll be sure to impress.

1. Journey Mapping

The objective of Journey Mapping is to develop personalized and exciting incentive experiences designed around specific personas within your company. This approach avoids the cookie-cutter and one-size- fits-all recipe of yesterday and embraces the unique and varied personas that make up the culture of your company. For example, you may have the “Culture Crew” persona within your company that loves to explore and be immersed in new cultures. Then you may have the “Music Lovers” persona that enjoys experiencing live music events. Sports fans, fitness enthusiasts, science buffs, nature-lovers—the personas are unlimited. Show your colleagues you know them and understand their preferences by planning flexible and personalized incentive programs tailored to their interests. 


2. Experiences

More and more people are expressing a desire for new and interesting experiences rather than acquiring more “stuff.” Jump on this trend to reward and incentivize employees and colleagues with the kind of unique experiences they may not be able to reach on their own. This will create lasting memories and steadfast company loyalty. Anyone can attend an awards dinner at a local conference center, but will they remember it in ten years? Instead of the same old, tired rewards, look for exciting adventures abroad that include local cuisine, art, and immersive culture. Give them memories they’ll talk about for years to come.  


3. Focus on Fitness

Fitness is a booming trend in both personal and business life. Now more than ever, people are more aware of mind and body wellness, so why not help them achieve their goals with an invigorating wellness retreat? Wellness travel can include group activities such as yoga, tai chi, or even rock climbing, as well as solo experiences such as relaxing massage treatments and a visit to natural hot springs. Participants will return with a renewed vigor and relaxed body to help stimulate performance back home.

4. All Inclusive

Planning an incentive trip is more than picking a location and letting your colleagues handle the rest. By choosing an all-inclusive route, you’re showing your people that their comfort and enjoyment are important to you. The incentive trip is a reward for outstanding service, so don’t let your winners reach into their pockets to pay for anything. Accommodations, travel, entertainment should all be covered. Even extra pillows, snacks and drinks, and local transportation should be included. Plan everything in advance and let your colleagues simply enjoy the experience without any of the hassle or worry.

5. Total Engagement

In addition to wowing your colleagues on the trip, turn some of your focus on total, lasting engagement. This is where technology really shines. Through mobile apps, virtual reality recreations of events, drones, and Go-Pro devices, participants can bring home a piece of the experience to live over and over or to show off to loved ones. The trip might be over, but the experience doesn’t have to end.

6. Giving Back

Today, 70% of incentive programs include some kind of corporate social responsibility, and there has been a growing trend in a new kind of experience. By choosing an incentive experience that includes helping a developing country improve their income generation, you allow participants to become immersed in a new culture while leaving a lasting positive impact for that community.

7. Always Learning

Another growing trend in incentive travel includes educational opportunities. History, science, local customs—these are all learning opportunities for your participants to take home new knowledge and a shared experience. Imagine a trip to China to visit the Great Wall, learn its history from locals, and simply stand in its awe-inspiring presence. Perhaps a low-key trip to a small vineyard and winery in Italy to learn how fine wine is made, or a trip through France learning about Monet and exploring where he lived and worked.

8. The Familiar and Unfamiliar

A great way to keep attendees entertained and engaged is to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar. For example, seeing a live concert of a favorite performer in a new country, surrounded by a new culture and atmosphere, will leave a lasting impression. For sports fans, attending the World Cup in Russia or the legendary Monaco Grand Prix can be a dream come true.

9. Living Local

Infuse more local flavor, personality, and experience into your incentive trip by planning activities that include the local people, their culture, and their lifestyles. Learn the language, shop the local markets, and give your colleagues the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the daily lives of the locals by planning offsite excursions led by local instructors.

10. Fill Their Bellies and Minds

There is one thing that is universal. Food speaks volumes and touches every human life. By planning an incentive trip around a destination’s local food, you can impart lasting knowledge and understanding to attendees that they can bring home and relive whenever they choose. Plan a tour of local restaurants to start, then tour farms and production centers, and finally arrange for in-person cooking lessons that focus on local techniques and cuisine. Engage all the senses, learn new skills, and immerse your colleagues in the side of a new culture that can be shared back home.

Incentive travel should include more than a trip abroad and being stuck in the hotel conference room. Provide excitement, engagement, and unique opportunities that your partners, colleagues, and employees will never forget.