Corporate incentive travel is a great way to motivate and reward your valuable employees. Incentive travel can be group or individual, and the destination can be local or international. But every successful incentive travel program begins with careful planning.

The following tips will help you plan a corporate travel incentive program that fits your company’s culture, size and available budget.

1. Determine Your Corporate Incentive Program Goals

In specific terms, establish what the incentive program should accomplish. This could be:

  • An increase in sales
  • Increase in production output or profits
  • A reduction in defective products
  • Sales returns
  • Lost contracts

Be sure to assign a value to the improvement or reduction—a percentage, absolute number of units or contracts, or a dollar figure.

2. Select the Target Group for the Program

This could be management, employees, salespeople, or even customers. Knowing this can help you better plan a program that is of value to individuals participating.

3. Discover the Target’s Values, Interests and Preferences

Glean insights on the values, interests and preferences of your target group through paper or electronic surveys or interviews. Then, browse corporate incentives guides to match up preferences with available packages in your budget range.

For example, your group may be interested in team connectivity, if they don’t spend a lot of time together in the office. Or, they may want some extra leisure time.

4. Establish Reasonable Tasks for Your Target Group

Consider past performance and employee behavior to identify reasonable tasks for your target group. This can help boost motivation and morale.

5. Make Sure You Have a Performance Tracking System in Place

Having a tracking system in place is the best way to measure incentive program results.

It’s also a useful tool for your target group—they can regularly check in on how they are progressing towards their tasks and goals.

6. Brainstorm Obstacles to Success

Some obstacles may inhibit the success of the incentive program. Some of these obstacles could be current employee morale, organizational structure or market conditions. Take these all into consideration when selecting a destination and designing the program.

7. Determine Program Management

Will your program be managed internally or outsourced to an agency? Determine this in the early stages of the planning process to ensure availability of resources. The earlier you can plan ahead and establish this structure, the more successful your program will be.

8. Understand Applicable Tax Implications

Travel can be taxable to recipients under certain conditions, and special tax forms may be required. Keep this in mind during the planning process.

9. Research Corporate Incentive Travel Companies

When selecting a corporate incentive travel company, make sure it agrees to fulfill what is promised for your budgeted cost, and that you understand its cancellation policies.

10. Conduct an End-of-Program Survey

At the end of your program, survey winners and non-winners to determine whether the program was successful in meeting the objective. Take these insights to apply to the next corporate incentive travel program you organize.

Corporate Incentive Travel on a Smaller Budget

Even if you can’t afford to whisk your top performers away to Europe on a private jet, you can still reward your employees with incentive travel that they can enjoy.

If you can afford to send your team on a teambuilding retreat, it doesn’t have to be far away. Campsites and resorts, even a day on a chartered boat can create a memorable experience.

For individuals, it’s better to send your recipient somewhere exotic enough to be memorable. If possible, allowing a spouse or children to accompany your employee is also a good idea.

An employee incentive getaway generally lasts from three nights to a full week, but weekend getaways can also work for smaller budgets. Accommodation could be in a bed and breakfast. Check travel and hotel websites often to catch their “travel best bets.”

For any corporate incentive travel program to accomplish its goals, you must determine how much you can spend, what options are available and what people want. And you must anticipate potential problems both within and without your organization.

A clear system for measuring results will help you with future planning. Even on a smaller budget, corporate incentive travel can benefit your organization.

This article was originally written by Linda Bustos in October 2011, provided courtesy of the Human Services Directory website (no longer active), and updated September 2019.

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