In MICE

plane flying overhead amongst tropical treesOver the past two years, many of us devoted quite a bit of time to gazing into our crystal balls, desiring to see total industry recovery. Thankfully, lots of our wishes did materialize in real life. But a few? Not so much…at least, not yet. Because here we stand, well into 2022, still contending with continued uncertainty and conditions like major workforce changes.

Read on below to determine how these current challenges are manifesting the future of incentive travel.

Looking deeper into the dilemmas…

Today’s pandemic-linked complexities include “The Great Resignation,” labor shortages, employers struggling to find and hire great talent in an increasingly hot job market and a substantial number of employees working remotely (who seem destined to stay that way).

They’re all reasons why employers must—now, more than ever—entice and recruit new employees and then engage, motivate and retain the ones they do have. One unsurpassed solution: integrating attractive incentive travel programs into their companies’ complete benefits packages.

“Pivot” remains the name of the game, too. Employers and incentive travel professionals need to persistently adapt and brainstorm new strategies, in order to become or stay competitive, expand their reach, build company culture and ensure employees feel connected.

…discovering why incentive travel is so important…

In its June 2021 study, The Impact of Destination Choice on Motivation, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) reported that 80% of survey respondents rank group incentive travel awards as “very” or “extremely” motivating.

And recently, the IRF released the IRF 2022 Trends Report, which reveals that incentive travel endures as a priority and as a leading, irreplaceable source of motivation.

Here’s why: “Incentive program owners and participants are willing to navigate uncertainty, travel restrictions, testing, and shifting protocols for an incentive trip. The benefits of incentive travel include the excitement the reward travel generates during the qualifying period, the networking and relationship-building during the trip or event, the storytelling afterward, and ultimately shifting the culture of performance in a positive direction.”

For instance, even the possibility of attending the live, in-person incentive trip portion of a hybrid recognition and reward event provides stronger motivation for employees to achieve the maximum performance level.

…and heeding the top incentive travel trends.

Among the takeaways, note that:

  • The evolution of your event design and health and safety practices will parallel emerging COVID variants, medical developments and technologies.
  • Likewise, you’ll be guided by participants’ levels of comfort and readiness, which vary greatly and are ever-changing. For example, some are unvaccinated and cannot join in trips with vaccine mandates, some are uncomfortable with traveling, and some simply still aren’t ready to be part of a group.
  • Offering individual incentive travel trips, or splitting larger groups across multiple, smaller trips, can aid in creating a safer, more comfortable experience.
  • The less crowded and more open and remote your destination, the better. Consider incentive trips to the mountains and stays in luxury hotels.
  • Participants favor centralized locations requiring shorter flight and travel times.
  • Overcommunicating—clearly, frequently and in a detailed manner—is key to easing fears, managing expectations and empowering participants, before and during the trip.
  • Greater personalization is essential, especially for employees working remotely and those returning to the office, as well as for incentive trip winners who haven’t traveled in a long time.
  • You should set expectations surrounding any potential disruptions, such as compressed hotel inventory, price increases, reduced staffing and merchandise unavailability.

All signs point to growth.

Let’s talk, so that you can conjure the valuable and significant benefits of incentive travel business. Reach out to Lynn Kaniper at lkaniper@danacommunications.com or 609.466.9187, ext. 117.

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