What’s new in incentive travel in 2016? Well, whilst there may not be brand spanking “new trends” per se, we certainly are noticing a shift in the way clients reward their key stakeholders.
1. Let’s fly away…! Brands are still cost conscious when it comes to incentive travel, but there is a real desire to seek out long haul destinations. The want and need for new, interesting and alternative destinations is one that keeps coming up time and time again with our clients…and it’s one we love to explore too!
2. Time to focus on business Let’s face up to facts, incentive travel is incorporated into a brand’s strategy to drive performance and/or sales; either internally for employees or for key external partners. So incorporating a business session is often a vital part of the itinerary. It’s important for brands to maximise the use of the time they have with their stakeholders, whilst they are a captive audience, to transfer knowledge, learn, share best practices and host formal networking opportunities.
3. Flexible itineraries More and more, incentive programmes are constructed with leisure time at the core of the itinerary. It allows guests to explore in their own way, in their own time and at their own pace. This flexible approach provides another level of reward, not being bound to a set and rigid itinerary where the attendees have the dreaded ‘forced’ fun factored in.
4. Let’s get intimate… Gone are the days of mass participation on programmes. In today’s world, real human connections are key for maximum engagement. We design experiences that are intimate to make it so much more special. We strive to seek out the new and different, to ensure our guests have a truly personalised, intimate experience.
5. Goodbye golf, hello elephant polo People, it’s time to shake up the status quo! Whilst golf was once the activity for incentive groups, times have moved on. As a keen golfer myself, I can understand and appreciate a round of golf in idyllic surroundings, but for those wanting more, we can deliver. How about under-water hockey? Elephant polo? Snowboarding on sand dunes? Quad biking on ice? I could go on
6. Go Social Social media is being used to launch the campaign on Facebook or Twitter and from there build excitement and anticipation about a destination. Unique hashtags are being created to drive awareness and interest, to release leader boards on LinkedIn or even to share stories and photos post-event. The inclusion of social media for an incentive programme supports in amplifying the campaign messaging.
7. Corporate Social Responsibility Sustainable tourism is on-point in 2016 more than ever before, for any traveller. Brands are more aware of their responsibility to destinations and its community, so requests for CSR to be integrated into an incentive programme are on the rise. Ideas ranging from cooking at a local hospice, painting a school building, landscaping a garden or helping out with a litter sweep…options are numerous! Giving back instils a sense of pride in the guests, re-enforces the ethos of a brand and a cynic might say it’s a great opportunity to promote the good that’s achieved on social media channels. A win win situation all around.
8. Size does matter! We are noticing a trend for requests at boutique hotels over large resorts. It all goes back to that personalised experience which is much easier to achieve at a smaller resort or hotel which values quality over volume.
9. Measurement, Measurement, Measurement! A brand has to be answerable to the board as to why incentive travel is still relevant and pertinent to their cause. We assist brands on the mechanics to define the optimum outcomes of an incentive programme, over and above the obvious gauge of brand advocacy. Our online system supports in tracking of web registration, email campaigns, social media hits and more. Reporting is paramount to any programme, but delving a little deeper at the planning phase, ensure the right measures are put in place for thorough post-event reporting.
10. Use of relevant technology Technology should be present in our lives to make it better, not hinder us! Rather than use technology for technology sake, we prefer to utilise what’s available to us in a much more relevant fashion. We incorporate intuitive solutions to support the project planning process that enhance, not detract, from the overall guest experience. The use of our online guest management system and development of a branded guest travel app for personalised itineraries and information, are on the top of our clients’ technological needs.