Every planner works from a different checklist when devising an incentive trip. Meetings Focus consulted incentive experts to find out their top planning priorities.

  • Make sure the client’s budget meets their destination choice. Every client would like to host the program at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons Resort. Many do not have the budget for this level of property. The idea is to find the most affordable property for the client that will offer the best amenities, services, etc. 
  • Make sure time of year client would like to travel works with the weather at the destination they would like to hold their incentive program. An incentive program to Vancouver in October can be cold and rainy at that time of year.
  • Make sure travel time to reach the destination works with the number of nights the client would like to hold their incentive program. Flying from Dallas to San Juan for a three night incentive program is hard on the winners.  The program would be better if it would be at least four nights.
  • Try to use hotels and vendors that have offered superior service in the past and ones with whom you have an established relationship.
  • Make sure the property selected is a hotel that accommodates incentive programs. Many clients of mine suggest looking at a property where they stayed while on vacation, but these properties are not the type that have the function space required for a successful program.
  • Make sure the property selected is appropriate for the size of the program. Booking a property with 1,500 rooms when the client needs 100 rooms makes them look like a little fish in a big pond. I would rather they be the big fish.
  • The program should include at least one special event or activity that all participants must attend.
  • For F&B, try and put quality over quantity
  • Include welcome packets, and room amenities with company’s logo.


Sandi DanielDeborah Rutstein Baum, CMP, is President of the meeting and incentive division of Journey House Travel. Her division is the contact point for arranging comprehensive incentive programs, corporate training, business meetings, and trade shows, along with destination management services.