Every business manager would like to see increased profits and increased productivity, and specialist research is unequivocal about the fact that travel incentives act to motivate employees to go above and beyond.
So, you may ask, what’s so special about travel? The answer is diverse, but the essential feature is that it has both a “trophy value” and is a highly sought after reward. Whereas I will discuss some of the key ingredients that go to create a successful programme, it should be noted from the very beginning that a good travel incentive is all about the extraordinary; it’s that fine dining experience in a private Tuscan Villa, it’s enjoying a day racing Ferraris in Monaco, it’s about taking people to off-the-beaten-path destinations and giving them a lifetime of memories.
The research is in
The Incentive Research Foundation defines travel incentives as a “motivational tool to enhance productivity or achieve other business objectives. Participants qualify for the travel award based on achieving the level of performance required by the programme” (2006).
The influence of increased employee motivation can only be ignored at your own peril: A recent Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE) Foundation study found that travel incentive programmes can better output performance by up to 22% and that 4 out of 5 employees prefer travel rewards to cash incentives (this is primarily because cash lacks that all-important trophy value).
Moreover, SITE research found that if you manage to motivate 60% of your workforce to increase productivity by only 5%, the overall increase will amount to 70%. These figures are not to be overlooked!
A ‘How to’ guide
OK, travel incentives irrefutably work, but how does one design, implement and execute a well-run and desirable programme? As with any incentive programme, the first step is to identify areas of your business that are either ripe for improvement or areas that you, as a manager, would like to see improve.
Step number two is to design the programme well, ensuring that objectives are measurable and realistic. Number three is running the programme efficiently and communicating objectives and progress to your employees in a clear and regular manner. Step four is perhaps the most exciting: planning, creatively, a trip of a lifetime!
Huw Tuckett, a veteran with over 15 years’ experience and COO of Uwin Iwin International, points out that there are 5 essential elements that are always to be borne in mind when planning a travel incentive:
- The destination should be exciting and original: this is to say that novel experiences are of vital importance, and that reward recipients should be whisked away to a destination that they would normally not visit on their own.
- The best for the best! Accommodation, meals and experiences should be of a high standard, conveying to the award recipients that their input is highly valued and that their hard work is paying off.• Personalisation is key: the travel reward is a personal thank-you for excellent work, so personal recognition is a must.
- As travel experiences can continue to motivate beyond the reward, the trip should be unforgettable and highly enjoyable. The post-trip word of mouth advertising will also go a long way to motivate other employees to enter into the fray.• The bottom line must validate the travel reward: simply put, the reward must make sense as a business decision, but, at the same time, its budget should not be too constrained otherwise the trip, as an incentive, will lose its efficacy.