With incentive travel programs having effectively supplanted cash rewards like bonuses, the industry is poised to continue growing.  With more than three quarters of US companies calling on incentive travel as a way to inspire employees, the only way is up. But planners need to be aware of some key trends.  Some of these are very encouraging and others demand an awareness of potential pitfalls, when planning travel incentives.  These 2017 incentive travel trends for planners are offered in the interest of keeping you informed and ready for what the year ahead has in store.

Venturing out of the USA.

More and more companies are calling on travel incentives to recognize key people in their organizations, but they’re also going further afield to do that.  For many years, US incentive travel programs focused primarily on the USA.  Nowadays, more incentives are focused on luxury resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. With incentive travel budgets reaching as much as $4K per employee, incentives appear to be trending toward more lavish experiences.  Corporate meetings are being taken offshore, which means the industry is booming and accommodation vendors are adapting to shifting needs.

Red tape.

Regulatory realities are impacting the ability of planners to create effective travel incentive programs.  This is increasingly true, as government catches up with the trend to reward employees with travel. New rules at the federal level are recognizing the need to regulate the industry.  Conflict of Interest guidelines from the US Labor Department and newly instituted regulations governing overtime demand that planners incorporate knowledge of these regimes into the planning process.

A more dangerous world.

Political instability and large scale extreme weather events have made it incumbent upon travel planners to maintain an awareness of what’s going on in the world.  When you’re selecting destinations, this factor is key. It’s important to know that more than half of travel planners have seen an event derailed by extreme weather.  Increasingly, planners are called upon to create contingency plans, addressing the potential for unforeseen disruptions.  In the face of global instability, it’s a best practice and one all planners should be adding to their professional repertoires.

The experience economy.

All is not gloom in the 2017 incentive travel trends for planners.  The good news is that the industry is recognizing the need to acknowledge the experience economy.  People today don’t just want to go somewhere.  They want to experience it on an emotional level. Incorporating this trend into incentive travel planning means knowing what your employees’ dreams are.   What’s on their bucket list and how can a travel or other non-cash incentive (spa day?) help them cross off one of their items?  For 2017, the experience is the thing and that means an emotional connection to the incentive experience. At Incentive Travel Group, we believe that forewarned is forearmed.  Knowing what’s going on in the world of incentive travel prepares planners with key information to help them create outstanding incentives that motivate and inspire employees. Contact us.  We’re logistics experts, creating exceptional incentive travel programs that inspire.

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