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Creating incentive trips that appeal to everyone

Successful incentive trips start with flexibility, imagination and knowing your audience

By Charlene Brooke

Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever. While travel continues to rank highly as an incentive among millenials, gen x’ers, baby boomers and traditionalists alike, what motivates each of these groups may vary greatly. Successful incentive trips start with flexibility, imagination and adherence to a simple rule that drives so much of our business: get to know your audience.

Research, research, research
Christine Erickson, senior director of business development in North America at CWT Meetings & Events, recommends that clients do upfront research to determine the key drivers for each group they’re trying to engage. Do they want to travel with their family? Participate in some-thing active? Engage with the local culture? The ultimate goal of any incentive trip is, after all, motivation. If clients can identify what will truly drive engagement and performance with each group, their incentive program will be that much more successful from the start.

Solution #1: Multiple trips
One way to appeal to diverse groups is to offer multiple destination options. Right now, for example, Erickson’s team is working on a program that gives earners the opportunity to choose from destinations that include sun/sand, a dude ranch or an urban experience. “Choice is incredibly motivating. When earners are allowed to choose the experience, it becomes personal,” she says. Just imagine how this personal connection can then drive communications throughout the earning period: Once you know what inspires your participants, you can speak to them in a more customized and engaging way. It goes without saying, however, that managing the budget of multiple trips can be a challenge. In order for clients to gauge the size and scope of each group, participants need to select and commit to their choice at the beginning of the incentive period. Is this challenge worth the extra work involved? “Absolutely,” says Erickson. “Without doubt.”

Solution #2: One trip, different tracks
Another way to drive engagement among diverse groups is to give them a choice of different activity tracks on a single trip. Devon McCrum, manager, events and experiences at MeritBiz, says the secret is to work with a reliable destination management partner who can add special touches to the activity so that earners get access to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something that goes beyond an art tour, say, or a hike. This kind of approach also comes with budget implications but McCrum agrees that the extra effort pays off.

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