5 Tips for Planning A Successful Incentive Travel Program

Incentive travel can help to motivate employees and increase productivity. Many people often struggle to understand what incentive travel programs are, and how they work. The idea of an incentive travel program is that you reward employees for reaching specific goals that are set, by sending them off on a vacation for meeting those goals.

1. Identify an objective

An incentive program is a way to engage your employees by creating a reward that they can earn for improved performance. The same applies to travel incentives. The trip is a tangible reward, beyond the normal paycheck, that the employee can earn for increased productivity. Offering this kind of incentive is a good way to reach a specific goal. Before you begin, you need to identify what it is the company hopes to achieve by investing in such a program. Is it higher sales? A specific percentage of growth in client base? What is it that is motivating the company to offer an incentive program? The answer must be something that is able to be tracked and measured, to see whether or not the incentive worked.

2. Set reasonable goals

While the company objective may be broad and make sense to the executives, you need to make sure that you are setting targets and goals that are understandable and more importantly, attainable, for the people in the program. Simply telling them they need to be more productive is too broad. Telling them that they need to bring in 2 new clients per week is specific. Telling them that they need to bring in 25 when they average one or two each week is simply unreasonable. You have to find a “sweet spot” between what is normal, and what is unreasonable. If you set a goal that is too difficult to achieve, you will wind up alienating a large portion of your workforce if they decide that the goals can’t be met.

3. Design the trip based on the needs of the majority

While the executive staff may prefer sipping cocktails at a peaceful Caribbean beach, the majority of your target employees may have completely different ideas about what makes for a great destination. If they have families or young children that need to be considered, that may not be your best bet. Remember that the point of this type of incentive is to motivate the largest number of employees, not just a select few. Make sure that your incentive will appeal to the middle ground. Planning a trip that isn’t appealing or feasible for many of your employees is a good way to have them abandon the inventive program before it starts.

4. Track metrics and make them available

Setting goals is great, but if the participants can’t figure out where they stand, they won’t be as able to track their progress towards the goal. Make sure that the employees are provided regular reports about how close they are, or how many more sales they need to make in order to meet the goal. Being able to see how they are doing individually is more important to the employee than finding out how close the company is to the primary objective. A weekly email or a site they can log into daily to see how they are doing is a bigger motivator than hearing that we’re only 7% away from reaching our goal.

5. Market the program to keep employees motivated

Just like tracking employee progress is important, keeping them aware and focused is critical to a successful incentive campaign. If you throw a kick-off party and then they hear nothing for the next 6 weeks, many of them will forget it. Email reminders, signs, announcements, and progress reports are all great for keeping interest piqued and motivation high. Setting milestone goals or having an “almost there” party are great ways to keep the staff engaged and thinking about the incentive.

If needed, consult a professional

If you’re interested in doing it well, consider hiring a firm that specializes in incentive travel programs, and then let them do the work. They have the experience, the contacts, and many times, the materials in place to get your program up and running and keep it going smoothly. While the initial investment may seem prohibitive, the return you will get from having the program handled by a professional makes it well worth the cost.

Will Norquay is a frequent business traveler who shares his experiences and thoughts writing for Stayz, Australia’s #1 holiday rental website.