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Sending your employees on an all-expenses paid vacation sends a message that’s loud and clear: You appreciate them and care about their well-being.

But implementing an incentive trip program also offers the overall company a range of benefits—from improving employee retention, production, and building morale, to providing invaluable team-building opportunities.

Of course, if you’re already planning an incentive trip, you’re probably aware that the return on investment far outweighs the cost. Planning an incentive trip, like any other trip or event, takes careful consideration of your audience’s likes, dislikes, and overall demographic. Factoring all this in, as well as throwing in some creativity and flair, are the keys to planning a successful and meaningful trip for your employees.

With that in mind, here are five incentive trip planning best practices to keep in mind:

1. Naming your Incentive Trip Program

It’s not enough to just inform employees that you’re implementing an incentive trip. After all, a Dutch travel study found that those going on a vacation experienced their highest level of happiness in the weeks and months before a trip. To truly engage your audience, you’ll want to give each year’s program a name and a theme that are related to the destination or to the company’s goals for that year. Creating a visual identity that goes along with the theme and incentive trip name can help you promote the trip throughout your company and garner more interest by making it more memorable. Be creative with it and have fun—this is a vacation you’re planning after all. To up the ante, hold off on announcing the destination to create buzz around the big reveal.

Click here for a list of common incentive trip naming conventions:

Circle of Excellence
Top Gun
CEO Circle
Chairman’s Award
President’s Club
Diamond Club
The Winner’s Circle

2. Marketing your Incentive Trip

A major perk of offering an incentive trip program (beyond rewarding your employees for a job well done) is the payoff the company gets leading up to the trip. According to Transformative Travel, companies that execute a well-planned incentive program saw a 64% increase in employee engagement. This means more productive, happy employees.

If you don’t market your trip leading up to it, excitement surrounding the trip is likely to sputter out. That’s why launching an incentive program with flair is important. Visuals are necessary to any good marketing campaign, which is why showing a video detailing the destination can create strong initial engagement. If you’ve hosted previous incentive trips, showing the past year’s travels followed by the upcoming trip is a good way to boost interest while also telling a story of adventures to come.

Of course, once you’ve launched the incentive you don’t want it to fade into the background. Keep it front and center so it can be the powerful motivator you intended it to be. Some ways to do this include weekly or monthly emails about the trip, including interesting experiences or sights your employees might want to take part in or see. A little friendly competition also never hurts. This could mean giving out prizes to employees who have reached company goals early or sending out weekly updates on individual performance.

3. Unforgettable Incentive Trip Invitations

For the employees who earned their trip, sending them mailers leading up to the day they leave can build more momentum around an already exciting opportunity—and will also show how appreciative you are of their accomplishments. This could include sunglasses if you’re going somewhere tropical, or a branded water bottle that matches with the theme of the trip. Going near water? Think about a dry bag or a custom waterproof phone case. Everything from the packaging to the gifts inside can match the visual identity of the trip’s overarching theme. Along with these gifts, you’ll of course want to send them an official letter inviting them on the trip.

4. Incentive Trip Gift Ideas & Activities

Don’t let your intentionality and personalization stop once your guests have reached their destination. Start with personalization, with all guests receiving a personalized welcome letter along with an itinerary and a list of activities and sights they might want to check out. Welcoming them with art or a voucher to a local artisan can help make the experience unique right from the get-go. But don’t stop there. Dropping gifts off to employees’ rooms that correspond with activities on the trip can help build out a truly memorable experience. According to one travel study, the most memorable experiences include (in order of significance): 1. social interaction, 2. destination attractiveness, 3. excitement, 4. novelty, and 5. learning.

5. Cyclical Incentive Trip Planning

While planning an incentive trip every year is something for your employees to look forward to, don’t make the mistake of planning the same trip year after year. Think ahead on how you make each experience unique—so that you can bring new motivations and experiences to your future winners. Each trip you plan provides a roadmap for future incentives, which you can tease to your employees to keep them excited about the coming year’s goals and adventures.

Discover your Next Incentive Trip

There are many paths to designing an unforgettable incentive trip when there are so many places to visit and unique experiences to try. Looking to discover your next incentive trip? Contact us at Unbridled, so we can help you level-up your incentive program.

Need assistance with your Incentive Program Strategy?

Call us at 800-290-0311.