When asked which awards they prefer, recipients often rate group or individual travel right after cash as their preferred award. Group travel offers the unique ability to create a memorable program for top performers or customers, powerful one-to-one communications opportunities, and an opportunity for top management to mingle with key customers or employees that is highly conducive to relationship-building and understanding.
Group incentive travel is not your garden-variety tour – the best programs create special experiences that people couldn’t readily experience on their own and foster communication, camaraderie, and team-building unlikely to occur in any other type of experience. These programs often include motivational or recognition events, or are combined with new product introductions, dealer councils, or networking programs so that they can be legitimately treated as a meeting for tax issues. Usually, spouses and significant others are invited, and some programs even include family components. Often these programs are known for often having unique, theatrical, or experiential elements designed to create lasting memories.
Group travel is used primarily in sales and channel partner programs, but its use is increasing for non-sales employees as part of team-building and learning programs. For these types of programs, motivational events and experiences get intertwined with training or team-building exercises.
- Properly structured programs can have a high impact on morale and loyalty for those who receive them.
- They offer top management an exceptional way to mingle with key audiences in a relaxed way.
- They can become an important recruitment tool.
- They have particular value with channel partner programs because of the ability to meet and get to know dealer/distributor salespeople as well as company principals.
- They require getting people out of their offices at the same time.
- They require expert planning using travel suppliers and venues with demonstrated experience in creating or hosting motivational events. This is no work for an inexperienced meeting planner.
- They carry the highest cost of most award categories.
- Safety and security issues have to be considered.