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People often hear the phrase “incentive program” and assume it’s nothing more than a fancy term for a company-sponsored vacation. However, incentive programs encompass far more than lavish trips alone. They are built around a cycle of motivational business strategies that run over the course of an entire year.

When we talk about incentive programs, we aren’t referring to a series of one-off excursions. We’re describing robust initiatives that feature teaser campaigns, unique branding, and curated activities. In our experience, it takes a comprehensive, long-term plan to fully prompt buy-in from team members and generate a motivational engine.

Experiential rewards, rather than material or cash prizes, have been proven to be more effective at incentivizing individuals in the workplace. Incentive programs often produce higher ROIs, lower attrition rates, stronger company cultures, and more satisfied employees. It’s no wonder more companies than ever are launching programs of their own to promote engagement, motivation, and communication among workers.

Here are a few key trends that are driving today’s top incentive experiences.

1. Personalization

Your top performers will want to be recognized for their efforts. Personalizing aspects of their incentive experience is a great way to make them feel special; it also shows a genuine appreciation for their individual talents, which is likely to strengthen their ties to your company. There are countless ways to add a personal touch to your program. Examples include named registration boxes, custom amenities, favorite snacks, daily gift drops, pop-up stores for selectable gifts, personalized agendas, and VIP treatments for multi-year winners. Whatever you decide, it’s crucial that your company makes its top performers feel valued and appreciated.

2. Safety

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, safety will remain a priority for people traveling abroad for the foreseeable future. It’s important to understand and discuss ways to mitigate risk so that everyone can enjoy their trip to the fullest. Let them know what to expect beforehand and stay in constant communication while they’re away to ensure everything is running smoothly. While the coronavirus continues to be a presence in our lives, it’s also a good idea to set up COVID-19 tests 48 hours prior to departure. Be sure to establish clear health standards for the trip and allow guests to choose their own activities if they wish to stay separated from larger groups. Buying out a resort may also be a safe bet if you have the means to do so. For more information on safety, view our webinar on meeting safely in person, or download our guide to in-person event safety.

3. Awareness

It’s important to be mindful of who qualifies for your incentive program. To be more precise, you must be aware of the message your winners will send. Their achievements will reflect the purpose of your entire program. Performance metrics should be based on more than just sales numbers. Your executive leadership team must determine what other success indicators you wish to highlight, whether that be a person’s volunteer work, company involvement, or something else entirely. Awareness can also extend to sustainability, so take a moment to consider your program’s carbon footprint and see if there’s anything you can do to reduce it. We encourage you to incorporate additional corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives whenever possible. Set up a giveback fund or school supply drive to build your company culture while honoring your top performers.

4. Transformation

Incentive programs offer more than an opportunity for colleagues to connect in exciting locales. They also have the potential to be transformational experiences. Transformation describes a particularly impactful experience that deepens a person’s connection with their surroundings. For instance, staying three days at an all-inclusive resort could be a relaxing experience. Spending one night among an indigenous community and sharing authentic music, food, and customs — that could lead to transformation. Build an event that emphasizes personalization, awareness, and safety, so your attendees can elevate their experience to something truly unforgettable.

Final Thoughts

Focus on these elements to strengthen your incentive program. When properly executed, they will help boost retention, competition, and productivity among your team members. Before you can lead a successful incentive program, you first need experienced professionals to guide you. That’s where we can help.

Reach out to us at Unbridled. Our expert strategists and planners will make your next incentive trip awe-inspiring.

Call us at 800-290-0311.