Creating brilliant travel incentive programs is as relevant today as it was in earlier decades. Today's workforce appreciates any extra and helpful motivation they can receive to improve their performance and to secure their value to the organizations they belong to, and such incentive packages can do much to fuel their drive.

As such, companies must stay up to the task of providing worthwhile incentives that employees will be more than happy to work toward—and they must take note that travel is always a much-coveted offering. But making travel plans and incorporating the company's message and goals into those plans can be a complex undertaking, so businesses would do well to tap experienced meetings and incentive travel planners to take on these important tasks and help the company achieve its unique goals.

What would designing a travel incentive program in 2016 be like? The 2015 Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Index Benchmark Study offers the following key insights:

Minding costs

The annual study reveals that about 75% of the participating companies are emphasizing the importance of finding cost savings wherever possible while still putting together an effective incentive travel program. This can be accomplished by exploring steps such as having fewer inclusions, selecting less expensive destinations, and designing programs to be shorter.

The remaining percentage, on the other hand, is happy to increase their budgets for the programs in order to remain competitive.

Challenges to face

Understandably, the incentive travel program planning industry faces significant obstacles to successful and effective operations.

Airfares and other airline costs can be prohibitive, for one, and can immediately discourage companies from exploring the possibilities of domestic and international travel incentives. Likewise, the global economy can make companies think twice about allocating their precious resources for incentives.

The threat of terrorism is also a very real concern for organizations. Selecting destinations wisely can be an ironclad requirement, but as attacks can come from virtually anywhere (as current events will show), stringent planning for the utmost security of all participants would be the only recourse for addressing the issue.

Inspiration for innovation

Companies face serious competition in providing incentive travel programs that fuel their employees' motivation while meeting important business objectives. Today's workforce (which includes millennials with strong opinions and unique world views) look for challenges with a worthy incentive, so this year's programs must add value in ways that will spark the participants' imagination and interest.

The SITE study reports that meetings and activities revolving around corporate social responsibility can be expected to be present in most incentive travel programs this year. In addition to enjoyment, participants welcome the opportunity to use the travel opportunity to do some good, wherever the trip may take them.

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