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There are numerous factors to consider when planning your company’s incentive program to ensure that your top producers are recognized and rewarded for the results of their hard work. Incentive programs will be even more meaningful as the travel industry reopens over the next 12 – 16 months. To share best practices and recommendations, I have outlined the top 5 key considerations to help you in the process:

  • #1:  Destination
    • It is important to first consider what type of destination you would like to hold your incentive program in.  Do your producers want to stay within the domestic U.S. or travel internationally? The tropics or a city center?  If a tropical destination, would you consider an all-inclusive resort property? An all-inclusive resort is a great way to manage your budget as many things are already included in the per person nightly rate.  If you decide to stay close to home, there are many tropical and city center options within a short flight distance from most major U.S. cities.
    • You could also look to the sea if your attendees would prefer a cruise.  Depending on the size of your program, there are many smaller, luxury cruise options that allow you to buy-out the ship which really gives your program a very exclusive feel. 
    • A lot of this is going to be driven by your attendees and what they like to do which ties into the next key consideration.
  • #2:  Activities, Tours and Recreation
    • Who are your top producers? What is their average age? Are they adventurous and prefer activities like white water rafting, scuba diving or ziplining or do they desire more lowkey options like golf, spa or just hanging out at the pool or beach?  Are you looking for a destination with lots of water sports and activities or do you offer cultural tours and activities like museums, historical tours, theater?  The good news is that most destinations can deliver a combination of both adventurous and more passive tours and activities. It’s nice to be able to provide several options that your attendees can choose from that will meet the various preferences.
  • #3:  Unique Options
    • Another key consideration is to understand what unique and special experiences the destination can offer. This isn’t just limited to tours and activities but also for offsite event options. An off-site special venue for lunch or an evening dinner allows your attendees to experience something they may not have been able to do on their own.  You could have your awards evening in a Castle in Vienna or arrange to have a local, well-known entertainment group perform such as the Vienna Boys Choir, for example.  And who wouldn’t want to have their incentive program in Vienna!  Look for destinations that not only allow you to theme the program but also deliver those unique and special experiences.
  • #4:  Local Knowledge
    • Another key consideration is the ability to secure a trusted partner that has the local knowledge and experience to assist you in the planning and execution of your incentive program.  Many resort properties have preferred DMC (Destination Management Company) partners that are located “in-house” at the property or you can contact DMC member groups such as The DMC Network or World of DMC’s that can recommend a reliable and trusted partner for your destination.  A DMC will assist you with arranging airport transfers, offsite tours and activities, finding evening event venues, assisting with gifts and amenities and help you to create an experience based on the destination, just to name a few of their services.  It will save you hours of research to have someone by your side with the local knowledge and experience to ensure a one of a kind event for your attendees.
  • #5:  Budget
    • Last, but certainly not least, budget is always a key factor in determining a destination for your incentive program.  It will be important to have an overall understanding of the comprehensive costs before confirming a destination that includes estimates for air travel, hotel costs, projected costs for tours & activities, meal functions and evening events, gifts and amenities – the list goes on and on.  The last thing you want to do is take your top producers to an amazing place and not be able to provide any of the cool and exclusive experiences the destination has to offer. 

The great news is that whether you stay close to home or travel internationally, there are so many amazing incentive destinations to choose from, however, the reality is that it can be challenging to narrow the options down!

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