The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently conducted a study that distinguished the five different types of incentive travel programs. They found that these incentive travel programs are run for different reasons.
The five incentive travel program types are:
- The program provokes strong and immediate emotional reactions
- The program creates advocates for business initiatives
- The program becomes “cultural shorthand” for a specific set of actions or values
- The program incites conversations
- The program prods others to copy the behaviors and activities of incentive program winners
So let’s break each type down.
Strong Emotional Reactions
Sponsors who want this type of incentive travel program typically want the destinations to “shock and awe” the participants upon their arrival at the property and throughout their stay. This type of program is recommended to partner with a DMC in order to produce an amazing experience from beginning to end. They can help set up events and shows through local vendors and can make your incentive travel program experience that much better if this is the type of experience your company is seeking.
Business Initiative Advocates
When you run this type of an incentive program, you go after the most engaged and vocal section of your employee/participant base. Their participation and vocalization of their satisfaction with the incentive travel program and the rewards will easily help the rest of your base get on board and motivated. The IRF says that while this program may only recognize the top 5-10% of your base, it will easily motivate as much as 50%. It’s best to lead up to and through the incentive program with outstanding promotional communication materials so that your participants understand what’s at stake and produce maximized results.
“Cultural Shorthand” For Specific Actions Or Values
The IRF says that in this type of incentive program, “top achievers represent such a distinct point of view that the very name of the incentive travel program stands as a status symbol for a defined set of values.” That means that your program design, destination, objectives and goals should all be designed to convey one, core brand message. If it’s a program designed to reward performance, then the name, the reward, and the branding all need to reflect that, and the incentive program has to become synonymous with performance.
This type of incentive travel program utilizes the top-ranked achievers as conversation starters and encourages them to be mouthpieces of the program and the company’s objectives. They’re also encouraged to take to or are chosen because of their social media connection and ability to use the medium to promote the company and the program’s objectives.
Act Like The Winners
This type of incentive travel program revolves around educating all participants on how to think, behave, and perform like a winner – typically through the sharing of best practices. It acknowledges that winners do in fact act and behave differently, and wants to share the behaviors with all participants. If it’s a program where many participants are invited on the trip, but only a few are recognized, then the resources are used to highlight how the recognized participants got to where they are and how they did it. It gives them the motivation to continue performing well in the future because it recognizes their merit, and it motivates other participants to perform this way too because they want to be the ones recognized next time.
The Destination Matters
One other key takeaway from the study was that “overall, award earners were motivated by the attractiveness of the destination. In fact, award earners said they were more motivated by the destination than they were by being recognized.” They also say that award earners want fun, a great hotel, and unstructured time where they can enjoy the destination at their leisure. So if you’re looking to plan an incentive travel program for your company, consider loosening the reins a bit so your earners can freely enjoy their spoils.
Here at Incentive Solutions, we’ve been planning and executing incentive travel programs for decades. It’s one of our main specialties. If you’d like to know more about setting up an incentive travel program for your company, call us today at 1-866-567-7432.