Incentive Travel Programs For Business Trip

September 14, 2015

Incentive trips can bring many benefits to a company, as they are perfect moments to strengthen the team building, to motivate employees to achieve predetermined objectives for the company, or to reward them for their achievements throughout the year, and to improve the cohesion between departments and promote sales.

The planning and development of incentive travel is a fundamental aspect. Therefore, it is very important to keep experienced professionals to organize and to ensure the safety and proper operation of the trip.

There is a lot variety in this type of travel, the most popular are activities in group travel, luxury travel, sports travel, cultural tours, adventure travel, etc.

SmartWorks organizing personalized incentive trips!!!


As jobs become more competitive, employees are increasingly looking for extra perks. A simple end-of-year bonus is no longer enough to incentivize a workforce. On the other hand, a travel incentive can attract a lot of attention. 


We all love to travel, but more often than not, it gets placed on the back-burner while we wait for the perfect opportunity. Years can pass, and your travel dreams might never be realized. That’s why so many people love a travel incentive bonus. In a sense, it forces them to seize the opportunity to travel.

What is Incentive Travel

An incentive travel program is a non-monetary bonus that can encourage employees to meet business targets. Non-monetary incentives can be especially attractive to financially comfortable employees. Companies use incentive travel to help motivate their employees to meet company goals or outperform others to claim a prize. Such programs can encourage talented employees whose performance has plateaued to push harder. They foster perseverance and the motivation to see projects through. 


There are clear benefits to motivating employees with non-monetary rewards like travel incentives, according to the Incentive Research Foundation’s (IRF) recent report, 2020 Financial Services Top Performer Study. Data indicates that top performers strongly engage with travel incentives. The report also suggests that engagement is expected to be much higher when pandemic restrictions allow people to travel more freely again. 


Incentive travel companies, such as SmartWorks, help companies design high-performing travel incentive programs to boost productivity, performance, sales, morale, and loyalty. 

Benefits of Vacation Incentive Programs

Let’s run down the list of the known benefits of offering an incentive trip to your employees. 


  1. Motivation to Deliver and Improve

All businesses want to be buzzing with highly motivated and productive employees. Imagine the work you’d get done if every single employee was fully dedicated to the company’s goals! New and innovative methods to incentivize personnel are always on the table, and it’s clear that experiential rewards, such as incentive travel programs, work very well. 

  1. Incentive-Based Experiences are Highly Customizable

There is no “one size fits all” solution to keep everyone happy. We’re all so different that what might excite one person, might sound very dull to someone else. For example, an exciting South American adventure might be one person’s dream, but someone else might prefer a Fiji getaway. Incentive trips are highly customizable, which is part of the reason they’re so effective in engaging personnel. 

  1. Guilt-Free Pleasure

Everyone has a hidden explorer inside of them. Discovering, learning, and experiencing new cultures is at the core of our existence. In addition, traveling is known to relieve stress, boost creativity, enhance joy and satisfaction, and even lower the risk of depression.


With incentive travel, there’s no price tag for these benefits! You can’t always enjoy travel adventures on your company’s dime, but with incentive travel, the bill is taken care of. You won’t have to worry about whether that money should’ve been used to fix your house or saved for a rainy day. When you win a trip, you’re forced to relax, guilt-free. 

  1. Create Memories

In a few years, it might be hard to recall what you spent your bonus on, but it won’t be hard to remember that once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure!

  1. Build Strong Company Culture and Reputation

Strong company culture can decrease employee turnover. When you offer your employees corporate incentive travel programs or other experiential incentives, your employees feel that the company acknowledges the importance of well-being and mental health. 

  1. Attract Top Performers

When companies offer incentives such as travel programs, they’re a magnet for top performers. When talented people seek employment opportunities, they often look for perks like incentive travel programs. If you had to choose between working for a company with zero incentives and a company with strong incentives, you’d choose the latter.

How Do Vacation Incentive Travel Programs Work? 

Executive incentives and travel programs aren’t new. They’ve been an extremely effective strategy to incentivize employees and high performers for a while. However, for a long time, these programs were hard to utilize due to the vast options available. There’s no right or wrong way to implement incentive travel programs, but some excellent guidelines can help structure them correctly. 


Travel incentives are generally organized around a predefined goal that people have to meet to win the trip. These trips can take any shape and form. They can be for the best-performing employees and their families, or they can be group, team-building retreats to promote company culture and relaxation.


When planning for incentive travels, keep these questions in mind:


  • How long is the vacation going to last? 
  • What is the company’s allocated budget for the trip?


Most travel incentive programs include trips between 3-7 days long. The trip can blend team building activities, networking events, and free time, to allow people to explore and relax. 


Companies generally fund the majority of the expenses for these trips. Some companies might even include a daily cash perk, so their employees do not incur any out-of-pocket expenses. Another option is to offer a variety of tiers. For example, in some instances, you might have perks that extend to the employee’s spouse and children, so the entire family benefits. Different departments might have a separate program available for their own high-performers. There’s a great degree of customization to ensure that the perk is attractive to all employees working toward the predefined goal. 

How to Develop an Incentive Travel Program 

Executive incentives and travel programs are an excellent reward for top performers and loyal employees. Your company can decide if they prefer a team-building incentive trip or plan to offer the perk to a single winner. There are many ways to develop an incentive travel program. 

Step One

First, decide which goals will be tied to the perk. You can consider several goals, such as:


  • For Upper Management: Increase the overall profit margins of the company.
  • For Sales Departments: Increase sales volume.
  • For Retention Departments: Retain a set amount of accounts.
  • For Marketing Departments: Lower the cost of acquisition (COA) per customer.
  • For Sales Departments: Securing a large account or number of accounts.
  • Other.


It’s best to attach a numerical metric to each goal, so it’s easier for employees to visualize and work toward the goal. For example, if the current COA is $40, the incentive might allow the entire marketing department to go on a team-building retreat, if collectively, they manage to bring the COA down to $30 by a set time. 


Similarly, for the sales department, you can define a goal that’s attached to a number. If last year’s annual sales were $22 million, then the incentive goal can be set to $23 million. Due to the nature of sales jobs, it’s just as easy to plan around a collective effort as it is to reward only the high performers.

Step Two 

The second step is to pick who or which departments get to participate in a particular incentive program. 


  • Will you have a different perk for each department?
  • Will the perk be attached to a collective effort?

Step Three

Third, collect any data that can help the company offer the best possible incentive for the winners. Companies can use surveys to ask employees about their preferences around the structure of the trip, location, duration, etc. 


Step Four

Then, establish a solid tracking system to help employees understand where they are in the process. Visualization helps a lot, so if you can use images to track employees’ progress, you should.

Step Five

Now, you’re ready to collaborate with SmartWorks on the planning, structure, coordination, and flawless execution of your travel incentive plan. Working with SmartWorks takes away the hassle of researching and understanding tax implications and particular tax forms that might be required.

Step Six

Finally, engage the winner and all participants in a survey to understand any flaws in the incentive program and improve it for the following year. Surveys always help employees feel that they have a voice and are valued.

Incentive Trips for Employees: Get Inspired! 

Choosing incentive trips for employees is a lot of fun! Especially if your employees are working hard, trying to push the company to the next level. Here are some of the best-selling travel incentives to inspire you.

Wellness Trips

If your employees have been working extra hard, it might be a good idea to put together a wellness retreat. This will allow them to get some rest and bond with the team in a non-competitive environment. Wellness retreats include spa treatments, yoga classes, detox treatments for the mind and body, and other relaxing and rejuvenating activities. 


Wellness retreats spark productivity and creativity, making them a perfect, safe choice when you have to satisfy many people. Wellness trips can take place at ski resorts, golf resorts, or yoga/wellness resorts.

Festival Trips

Trips to festivals or other events are also a popular option for companies. They place a central theme on the trip, bringing the whole team together while allowing for lots of free time for people to relax. Some festivals to consider include:


  • Lantern Floating Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Various Comic Cons (multiple locations)
  • Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)
  • Voodoo Music and Arts Experience (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Gion Matsuri (Kyoto, Japan)
  • Cannes Film Festival (Cannes, France)
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Wonder Trips

Who doesn’t want to see the wonders of the world? This type of incentive trip can be truly inspirational for everyone involved. Some places to consider include:


  • Great Pyramids of Giza
  • Great Wall of China
  • Acropolis
  • Machu Picchu
  • Colossus of Rhodes


Many of these wonders are best enjoyed in specific seasons, so always be mindful of timing when choosing a wonder trip!

Discovery Trips

Discovery trips can include anything from food and vineyard tours to exploring historic cities. 


For food-focused trips you can consider:


  • Taste Porto (Portugal)
  • Devour Barcelona (Spain)
  • Food of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Culinary Backstreets (Italy)
  • Untours Street Eats (China)
  • Tokyo Memories (Japan)


For vineyard trips you can consider:


  • Montes (Chile)
  • Bodega Garzon (Uruguay)
  • Robert Mondavi Winery (USA)
  • Marques de Riscal (Spain)
  • Quinta do Crasto (Portugal)


Or you can take the map, throw a pin, and see where it lands!  The world is a wonderful place and it’s important that companies give their employees the chance to explore. 

Why SmartWorks is One of the Top Incentive Travel Companies 

Connect with SmartWorks, a premier destination management company, to make the most of your travel incentive program. Let us share what we love to do the most with you and your employees on a business trip.


You can rely on SmartWorks to put together an unforgettable travel incentive experience. We are a premier travel incentive program company, curating memorable experiences for your clients and top-performers. We can design beautiful travel incentive programs to help spark productivity, inspiration, and well-being. 

Contact us today, and we will do our absolute best to work with your budget and save you time while designing unique incentive travel programs.