Companies today are facing a growing skills gap, making it a crucial need for them to ensure that they have established a solid talent management program that allows them to attract the most outstanding employees for their team. More and more organizations are now seeing the need to offer beyond the usual benefits. Aside from providing the standard packages featuring insurance, healthcare and paid leaves, they have also started to invest more in incentives and rewards programs that offer something of value: an opportunity for personal development, a way to make life richer, a memorable experience. Incentive travel programs address all those criteria and more. While the concept of travel as a form of reward or recognition has been around for some time now, reports say the companies are now seeking more creative, more valuable, customized and cost-effective travel ideas to suit the needs and preferences of their workforce. As travel programs gain more complexity, getting the assistance of highly competent incentive travel planners has become an essential route. When outsourcing travel planners, you want to make sure that you’ll get your money’s worth. Your planner should make everything organized and efficient. They should be there to get things done, so you can focus on important tasks such as refining your strategy and building team engagement instead of trying to make sense of online review sites or making hotel reservations Do a background check. See first if you can get references from people you trust and from unbiased sources. Ask around from fellow business leaders or from co-members of HR associations. Look for testimonials from previous clients. Check if the agency is part of a reputable industry association. Talk to them. Make sure a prospective travel planner knows your goals and requirements, so they can come up with a proposal that matches your expectations. Offer them all the important details, as this will give you a chance to see if they can indeed provide the assistance and most especially the experience that you seek. Calculate the real cost savings. Outsourcing your travel program can help you cut costs as it saves you time and labor. But another way it can help you with the budget is to do as some reputable agencies do — offer packages that feature discounts on accommodations, transportation, entrance fees and other components, thanks to connections with businesses in the travel sector. Test them. A lot of unexpected things can occur during a trip. Flights may be delayed, someone may get sick, an urgent schedule change may be requested, and other stuff that corporate trip nightmares are made of. Think of a way for you to gauge how fast and effective the response of a prospective agency would be in case of an emergency.