Top Trends in Travel Incentives for 2018

by: Nichole Gunn November 27, 2017

For a while, planners expected trends in travel incentives to show a dip in interest, but businesses can’t get enough of using trips for employment or sales incentive programs. There’s still a major swing away from cash rewards, but taking an all-expenses-paid vacation to the tropics? We’re seeing increased support for programs offering individuals new and exciting experiences.

From Celebrating Groups to Individuals

One of the most notable trends in travel incentives is the slant toward individual recognition. Group trips might quickly become a thing of the past. These days, thanking a top-performing salesperson or channel partner often comes with a weekend getaway for the whole family.

This trend is also apparent in the group trips hosted by companies. There are more options to personalize your experience. There are more niches trips and sub-niches closely aligned to events or industries.

Travel incentives have grown considerably in the past 20 years as employers seek out more affordable ways to reward their top talent and retain their most profitable business partners. They're also seeking ways to keep the pressure on. In today's world, that means playing to someone’s fantasies. Bucket list destinations and the royal treatment are definitely on the rise.

Luxury Tops Trends in Travel Incentives

Luxury transportation options surprisingly take top priority, as airlines cut back on destinations and trim away features while boosting prices. An eye on the travel incentive market has seen a rise in chartered aircraft and luxurious rental cars, providing passengers with peace, quiet and all the pampering they could want.

These smaller companies can, again, present a more personal touch. Catered meals are just the beginning. Everyone who attends is expecting higher levels of attention and quality, from foods to linens and entertainment.

From the sponsor's viewpoint, individual trips deliver big benefits. Your top talent isn't out of the office at the same time should a problem arise. Progress won't move to the back burner. Plus, it provides a constant flow of PR as employees or channel partners talk and share photos from their incentive travel trips.

Trends Toward Incentive Travel Experiences

While a trip to Walt Disney World with the family was mind-blowing in the 80’s, today’s travelers are looking for more unique experiences. For instance, Disney’s Orlando park offers nighttime cruises during the fireworks display or behind-the-scenes tours during the day.

Adventure trips have to go a step beyond as well. Instead of trekking through the Himalayas, today's travelers want a chance to climb a mountain themselves. They don't want hot yoga – unless it's in the hottest health club in New York. Incentive planners today are under the gun to create personalized, unique, and above all else, fun getaways.

That includes fun for everyone. Planners continue to struggle to balance the wishes of older professionals nearing retirement with Millennial top achievers, especially when families are along for the ride. Providing guests with a robust selection of unique activities will continue to be a struggle.

Using Tiered Incentives to Encourage Growth

Finally, because luxury and expense are on the rise, companies have begun to tier their reward programs to drum up as much competition as possible. If your top 10 performing channel partners get a 4-day cruise to St. Kitts, the best of the best might receive a 10-day trip to Europe. Tiered incentives provide participants with a double-shot of motivation.

Trends in Incentive Travel Locations

As much devastation as we've seen this year, you might think travelers are wary of international locations. That has yet to be the case. They're willing to brave bad weather and political disarray to see the world in a whole new way. Unfortunately, professional planners say there have been disruptions for a full quarter of their trips. When creating a travel incentive, it is essential to work disaster management into your plans.

The most common locales booked for incentive trips remain Mexico and the Caribbean, though budget-conscious providers have begun seeking out Canada as an affordable foreign destination a group can visit in seven days or fewer.

Trends in travel incentives have shown budgets – and expectations – are on the rise. How have you modified your program? If you’re feeling lost at sea, contact Incentive Solutions. We’ll point you in the right direction.