Incentive Travel Industry Spotlight: 2014’s Positive Outlook

Are decreasing travel budgets a thing of the past? We certainly hope so. Since 2008, the incentive travel industry has been privy to the turbulent effects of a fluctuating economy paired with a watchful sentiment towards travel budgets. Program size and duration have scaled down and large, more elaborate programs have become few and far between. Now a new Pulse Study, titled 2014 Trends in Engagement, Incentives, and Recognition released by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) show results that are consistent with incentive travel budgets stabilizing and an increasingly positive outlook.

For the past six years, the IRF has documented trends in the incentive travel industry and noted unstable economic conditions that have impacted the way companies approach their budgets. In 2008, 81% of respondents felt that the economic downturn had negatively impacted their ability to plan an incentive travel program for their organization. When comparing this to current findings, the IRF has found that the number of companies decreasing their program size has shifted from 40% in 2008 to only 11% in 2014, on average. The IRF also found that 36% of respondents are increasing their budgets, pointing to a more prosperous incentive travel environment.

The research, which was conducted from April 15 through May 2, 2014, suggests that the increases in travel budgets are going into the non-meal components of incentive programs. These components include gifts, additional excursions and activities as well as comprehensive payment of all airline fees and transfers. This trend is expected to continue and, while slight program expansions are expected, we find planners wanting to increase the quality of programs over increasing the quantity, ultimately leading to a more profound growth in the non-meal component sectors.

Other Incentive Travel Trends:

– North America, the Caribbean and Europe remain the top destinations for incentive travel with Central America, South America and Asia representing the second most common group of destinations for incentive travel

– Planners looking outside the box are choosing areas such as China, Bali, Vietnam and Peru most often due to improved infrastructures and the opportunities they provide for genuine, uncommon experiences

– Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) continues to grow in importance for planners with 47% of them integrating it with their programs

– 62% of respondents said they are interested in utilizing wellness programs

– 60% of incentive travel planners are implementing social media to enhance onsite, pre and post event communications.

An incentive travel program is designed to motivate employees, customers or clients to engage in a certain behavior with the hopes of generating a particular result. These results may include increasing sales, ensuring customer satisfaction or creating greater loyalty. An incentive travel program is a proven form of motivation and increasingly, those who qualify for these rewards want a more robust experience where items on their personal bucket list are checked off. Clients are realizing that a higher quality program with fewer participants generates a greater behavioral change than a large program with no “WOW” factor.

To organize a trip that hits the mark, incentive travel companies need to have great industry relationships and connections, innovative ideas and the experience to manage all the elements. With over 30 years of experience in the industry JNR can help make your dream incentive trip a reality. If you would like more information on how JNR can provide your company with the tools to engage your workforce, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

Suggested Reading:

Traditional Advertising vs. Incentive Programs

Group Travel is the Number One Motivating Tool

Safety Incentive Program Saved Massey Energy $5 Million

Pharmaceutical Sales Incentives: A Case Study

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

The Best Sales Incentive Destination is…

One of the most effective ways to inspire sales professionals to perform to the best of their abilities and supercharge the bottom line of their employing company is to effectively incentivize them. While monetary compensation, perks, bonuses and gifts are valuable incentive tools, the power of experiential travel incentives is unmatched.

Elite salespeople are often rewarded for their victories in sales incentive programs by receiving trips that are typically called “Summit Club” or “President’s Club” and send them to destinations around the world for a vacation.

The destination choice for participants is extremely critical to the success of the program. While a trip to South Africa will be sufficiently enticing to most, it may not be realistic financially. On the converse, a trip within a four hour drive of your office may be low cost and easy to plan, but few will strive to win.

Incentive travel planners are tasked with the challenge of maximizing destination appeal and minimizing cost to achieve the greatest incremental performance increase for the lowest cost to optimize return on investment (ROI).

A recent study surveyed sales professionals in an attempt to determine what destination they preferred for sales incentive trips and found the following:

Ranking of Destination Preference

  1. Hawaii
  2. Caribbean (Jamaica, Bahamas)
  3. Machu Picchu
  4. Mountain Resort (Aspen, Vail)
  5. Florida Beach (Pensacola, Miami)
  6. Las Vegas
  7. New York
  8. Disney Theme Park

How The Trips Were Earned

Landing in the top 10% for overall sales quota is the most common way for survey respondents to ensure a spot on a trip.  Other common benchmark goals for winners were achieving 100% to 125% of quota in a specified sales period.  If you are designing a program, these might be appropriate program rules to utilize.

Did the Trip Increase Motivation?

73% of respondents either responded “strongly agree” or “moderately agree” when asked if the trip influenced their motivation to work hard. The most common response was “strongly agree” which is quite encouraging data if you are looking to prove the value of these programs to senior management.

Did the Trip Increase Job Satisfaction?

76% agreed that club incentives influenced their job satisfaction. Those satisfied with their job tend to exhibit higher rates of performance, productivity, efficiency and loyalty.

Did the Trip Influence Job Performance?

77% agreed that club incentives influenced job performance. The incremental sales gains yielding from three quarters of your sales force’s increased efforts can provide quite impressive ROI.

What is the Typical Size of Companies Offering Travel Incentives?

78% of companies with 251-1000 employees and 60% of all companies utilized travel incentives for their sales team. If your company has 251-1000 employees and is not offering travel incentives, you may be putting your organization at a disadvantage.

Suggested Reading:

Why Travel Incentives? Beyond the Research” – JNR Travel Planner Vicki Kern uses her 17 years of experience in the industry to explain why travel is such a strong motivator for salespeople.

Peru: A Dynamic and Dramatic Incentive Reward Destination” – JNR Director of Planning Matt Kisser lends his 20+ years in the business to give you insight on how to do an incentive trip to Machu Picchu in style.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Interested in an All-Inclusive Trip for Two to Tahiti?

Who isn’t? Unfortunately, when incentive program budgets get cut many immediately opt for a slimmed-down communication campaign. Your fabulous trip to Tahiti becomes your best-kept secret, and you don’t see the desired behaviors or increase in performance from your participants.

Here is a simple, two-step Cliffs Notes guide to communication and incentive program success:

  1. Fund it
  2. Have a Strategy

In order to have a killer communication strategy, start with the basics:

What is your objective? Define the desired outcome for the entire incentive program, and what series of smaller objectives do you have to achieve for this goal. What elements of your communication will create program awareness, inspire performance and deliver program information?

Who is your audience? Identify your target audience and the characteristics that are relevant to this particular group. These characteristics include demographics, personality traits, attitude, values and if available, behavior to past communications.

What is the message? The success of an incentive program has direct relation to the perception of the program’s value. Expectancy theories of motivation and achievement hold that the effort exerted in pursuit of a reward is directly related to the value of the reward offered for that performance. Communicate that value by staying relevant to your audience and highlighting benefits that are important to them. Our words, tonal quality, creativity, brevity —all the thousands of symbols that we use, intentionally and unintentionally—are perceived and translated according to our audience’s perceptions, shaped by age, gender, culture, intelligence, and the experiences unique to every individual.

What are your channels? Identify which communication tools will trigger a response from your audience.  Your audience’s age, gender, education and culture have also shaped the way they learn, respond and communication to different communication channels. Do you need to integrate online and offline, personal touches, and how many times do you need to reach this audience to breakthrough?

Are you measuring? Evaluating analytics and the audience’s response to different mediums of communication and making proper adjustments is key to connecting and maximizing their engagement.

Give your incentive program a chance to thrive. Fund it, understand what your audience needs and expects, and adapt your messages accordingly to enhance the likelihood of achieving your program goals.

For further reading on communication campaigns, click here.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kelly Woolsey

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.