As we’ve noted in our previous articles on Millennials and Generation X, today’s workplace is a more diverse and multi-generational place than ever before. With so many different ideologies, preferences and values abounding, it can be difficult for incentive travel planners to organize group travel events that motivate everyone. Our series of articles on each generation aims to highlight how every generation is uniquely motivated by incentive travel rewards. This way, managers, business leaders and event planners can better understand how to find common ground with and appeal to their target audiences.
In this quarter’s article, we’ll discuss the Baby Boomer generation.
Baby Boomers: Can Travel Incentives Motivate America’s Work Horses?
Baby Boomers, famously conceived in large numbers at the end of World War II, were born into a time of great national prosperity and optimism. They grew up in an era defined by advances in technology, civil rights and space exploration, as well as instability and nation-wide fear in reaction to the Cold War, Vietnam, the JFK assassination and Kent shootings. In a time of chaos and upheaval, Baby Boomers rose to the challenge and succeeded.
As Baby Boomers entered the workforce in the ‘70s and ‘80s, “they became known for prioritizing their careers and experiencing a high degree of stress in their personal lives as a result” (Ebscohost). In a Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) study, they reported that “Boomers are believed to work harder—or at least longer— than Millennials or Generation X, putting in punishing hours and working overtime to make their organizations and the world a better place. It is said that Boomers live to work, they seek advancement and status, they want respect and they expect others to pay their dues.”
As a generation known for giving 110% and are seasoned with plenty of experience, Baby Boomers can often be hard to impress, but offering travel rewards is one of the most stand-out ways of motivating them. Here’s why:
Travel Rewards Offer Personalized Prestige and Recognition
Baby Boomers grew up in an era in which hard work was commended visibly, often grandly. They take great pride in prestigious honors that acknowledge their efforts. As Sodexo’s 2015 Workplace Trends Report advised, “Baby Boomers tend to prefer rewards in the form of appreciation, promotion, and recognition delivered with a personal touch.” According to West Midland Family Center’s (WMFC) Generational Differences Chart, Boomers are inclined to displaying awards, certificates and other tokens of recognition and enjoy visible, tangible notoriety for the hard work and long hours they contribute.
Incentive travel rewards are immensely satisfying for a generation that values visible, public recognition. While Millennials will probably be delighted by the social media mementos from an incentive trip—Instagram pictures, Tweets, blogs, etc.—Boomers are more likely to appreciate a personalized or prestigious reminder they can display on their desks or offices. An engraved plaque reading “2016 Top Performers’ Exclusive European River Cruise,” for example, would be the perfect, permanent embodiment of a memorable incentive trip.
Incentive Travel Is an Opportunity for Face Time and Collaboration with Colleagues
As WMFC notes, Baby Boomers are a very sociable and collaborative bunch. They’re very team-oriented and enjoy succeeding with their colleagues as a group. They also greatly appreciate knowing that their voices and ideas matter, so having a chance to mingle and converse freely with their colleagues on an incentive group travel trip is a great opportunity for Baby Boomers to feel productive in exchanging business or sales strategies, understand the roles and perspectives of their team-mates and feel that their input is heard by those they don’t normally have much contact with. Having drinks or dinner after a thought-provoking presentation or round-table event is the perfect opportunity for Boomers to arrive at some fresh, progressive, outside-the-box ideas in a relaxed atmosphere.
A Social Impact Incentive Trip Appeals to Boomers’ Humanitarianism
Having come of age during the tumultuous 1960s, Boomers became well-acquainted with sociopolitical and environmental issues. Many Boomers in your workplace were probably on the frontlines of feminist and civil rights, environmental and anti-war rallies and protests. As such, many of them want to feel that they are part of a company with a humanitarian vision and an interest in improving the world around them. Millennials are typically the progeny of Boomers and, as Harvard Business Review studies found, the two generations share an interest in improving and learning about the world around them: “Gen Ys and Boomers also share a heightened sense of obligation to make a positive contribution to society... Respectively, 86% and 85% say it’s important that their work involve ‘giving back.’”
By taking Baby Boomers on a humanitarian-oriented social impact incentive trip, you can appeal to their environmental or sociopolitical concerns and their desire to help make the world a better place. On a social impact trip to Cuba or the Dominican Republic, for example, a travel group can work with official community and co-op groups to bring more pot-able water to villages, teach local students English and help working women. They can also be part of incentive travel trips to Africa which promote conservation efforts. The options are wide open when it comes to planning an incentive trip that appeals to Boomers’ philanthropic side.
Baby Boomers have seen it all—they’re known for being at the center of many of America’s turning points, from the moon landing to desegregation to demonstrations for workers’ and women’s rights. They’re also known for being adaptable, hard workers. What better way to motivate and make an impression on the Baby Boomer generation than by offering travel rewards that recognize their contributions, give them the chance to collaborate with colleagues and offer them the chance to help less privileged areas? Boomers will work harder and be more motivated by such incentive travel because they understand the value of new places and perspectives.
CEO of The Incentive Solutions Group of companies, consisting of:
Incentive Solutions, Inc. | Loyaltyworks