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Are Travel Incentives Right for Your Business?

In our previous blog, we gave our top tips for planning a successful team trip – but are trip incentives the right choice for your company? Before you answer with a confident “yes” or “no,” let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of implementing this incentive program.

Incentive Trips are Popular

Though there has been a reduction in travel in recent years, the trend is steadily reversing. Back in 2015, 46% of US companies used travel incentives. That’s a huge number! Despite the pandemic’s effects, experts believe the use of travel incentives is going to climb back up to these old numbers. Corporate-sponsored trips are just too much fun to quit. Some businesses have even found that when they give their employees the choice between a trip and cash, the employees prefer the trip! An added bonus of company trips is how appealing they can look to new recruits. Many companies who use travel incentives will list it in their benefits package in order to stand out to jobseekers.

Motivation Booster

The purpose behind trip incentives, of course, is to motivate. Like most incentives, these types of awards actively increase productivity. If your team’s objective is reachable, trip incentives are a great way to give them a goal to latch on to. You may even see employees get more creative as they engage in friendly competition with their peers. Even after the trip is over, those who went will feel rested and happy, aiding their productivity post-trip.

A great way to get everyone excited about earning a spot on the trip is to share images of your destination and items on the itinerary. This can be done via email newsletter for remote workers, or vision-board style on an available cork board in the office. Creating custom commemorative keepsakes for each trip also helps the employees feel like they’re part of an exclusive group. This way, they can treasure their trip forever and have something tangible to tie the experience to. Custom charm bracelets are our favorite way to commemorate these events because the employee can proudly display all the trips, they’ve earned in one high-end piece. Custom pilot’s wing pins are also a creative way to celebrate your team’s travel. Custom commemoratives add the “finishing touch” to a trip and keep the memory of this powerful incentive alive.

The Dollar Bill Drawback

The most obvious roadblock when offering trip incentives is the expense. Travel costs can quickly add up, especially if you’re trying to make this trip as luxurious as your top performers deserve. Though travel incentives have shown to have impressive ROIs, if you don’t have a big budget, that can seem like the end of the road. If you are able, start small with corporate-sponsored trips. Plan a weekend getaway somewhere within driving distance. As your company grows, you’ll be able to gradually scale-up your company’s annual trip. Just make sure your team’s qualifying goals match the scale as well.

Heavy Hitter Holiday

Another fair criticism of trip incentives is that all the company’s top earners are sent away at the same time, hurting sales numbers. There’s no real way to avoid this situation, but there are ways to mitigate the effects. First, time the trip so it doesn’t fall on peak sales times such as the end of the month, end of the quarter, or seasonal spikes. Second is to consider a “close-ended” program over an “open-ended” one. With open-ended programs, any employee who meets the qualifying criteria earns a spot on the trip. With close-ended programs, only the top number of employees (for instance, the top 10) qualify.

Pleasing Everybody

This is a one-size-fits-all incentive. Choosing a destination, and activities to do when your team gets there, can be difficult. Team members will surely have suggestions, and not all of them are going to be popular. Your top salesperson may want to go to a certain destination, but everyone else may favor another. It’s important to take stock in their wishes – this is their trip after all – but keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. Try to know your audience and add some variance in the trips each year to keep things exciting.

Although trip incentives are used by many companies, they are not right for everyone. If corporate-sponsored trips don’t align with your company culture, don’t try to force it. However, if you have the budget and the right audience, travel incentives can be a great way to motivate your teams, increase productivity, attract new recruits, stick to sales goals, and improve morale. Here’s another bonus… E.A. Dion can help you with custom travel commemoratives!


By Aubrey Dion

Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.


MTI Events - Company Trips as Incentives: The Pros and Cons

Gavel International - Advantages and Avoidable Disadvantages of Travel Incentive Programs

Incentive Research Foundation - The IRF 2021 Trends Report