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Incentive Travel for 2021 and Beyond

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Just a year ago, we were all wondering what the future held for incentive travel. Would it be gone forever? Thankfully, the news this year is that incentive travel is here to stay, and even though it’s evolved somewhat, that comes with some excellent benefits and opportunities.

TREND #1:      People Want to Get Out There

After more than a year of working completely from home, or working on a flex schedule that only has people in the office for a few days a week, people are very ready to venture beyond their front doors and experience a change of scenery. Even better, they don’t need to go far to feel rewarded. Weekend escapes to close-by destinations or tickets to an exclusive event in a neighboring city or state feels just as exciting as grabbing a passport for a week on the other side of the world.

TREND #2:      Domestic is Dominant

Partly driven by the convenience of not needing COVID testing or proof of vaccination for travel within the U.S., people are preferring to stay in the country while getting away. While this does mean that destinations like NYC, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, and theme parks, are going to get tougher to book on short notice, it also means companies may be able to temporarily lower their incentive budgets Or, they may choose to make more people eligible for incentive status, thus maintaining loyalty at a time when many companies are competing for solid sales reps. Look to spots like the islands of Georgia as an alternative to an overbooked Hilton Head, SC, or Sausalito instead of San Francisco, CA.

TREND #3:      Get In to Giving Back

People everywhere have spent the past year evaluating what’s really important to them. In fact, according to Benevity (a tech provider for corporate giving and donation platforms), 27% of corporations have reported steady increases in charitable giving since 2019. This is not just in response to customer demand, but also the expectations of internal employees and stakeholders. So, offering incentive travel that also does a bit of good resonates well with today’s workers. Beach vacations with

ocean-cleanup activities, mountain climbing with tree planting groups, and working and playing on carbon-neutral farms are all unique experiences companies can offer. Bonus – a portion of this travel may even be tax deductible as a charitable donation.

TREND #4:      Flexibility. Flexibility. Flexibility.

Being prepared for anything is a new skill almost all of humanity is practicing these days, and the ability to leave options open is highly appealing. As such, some companies are allowing their incentive-driven team members to “bank” points to use how they wish, sometimes choosing from a selection of company-sponsored destinations and/or events. An agent might decide to save up for a week-long ski trip, or, they could just as easily grab tickets for a local concert and save the leftover points for a different experience.

Other ideas to keep in mind include things like buying out smaller boutique resorts for an exclusive brand-only experience, or out-of-the-box ideas like a camping (or glamping) trip, or even luxury railway rides. Now might be a great time to survey your teams and see what they’d like to see most in terms of incentive travel, and then ask an event team like VIBE to come up with crave-worthy options that anyone would be excited to work towards.
 

About the VIBE Agency: The VIBE Agency is a Miami-based award-winning full-service production agency that specializes in the creation and orchestration of live and virtual experiences for the corporate industry.   The agency is forward-thinking and was recognized as one of the 50 top event companies by Special Events magazine in 2019 and 2020.  Most recently, Valerie Bihet, founder of the VIBE was named a Smart Women in Meetings 2021 Hall of Fame honoree by Smartmeetings, for her consistent work advancing the industry.  If it can’t be live, make it VIBE!

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