Things to consider when arranging an incentive trip

by Cat Preston

In the world of corporate rewards and motivation, incentive travel provides a unique opportunity to celebrate achievement without defaulting to tangible rewards. They drive employee engagement, performance, and loyalty, while providing a unique life experience. 

However, arranging an incentive trip comes with a lot of considerations, and requires careful planning to ensure smooth delivery. This article will outline the essential elements you will want to consider when planning a memorable and impactful incentive travel experience. 

How many people can win?

It may seem like an obvious question, but the number of people who can win can have a real impact on both employee engagement with the scheme, but also raise practical points around logistics. 

An incentive is all about driving performance, so employees need to feel as though they have a realistic chance of winning to invest the extra effort. If they’re competing with a team of 1000 other people, and there are only five spots, they might view the odds of success as insufficient to really push themselves. 

Logistically, the size of the group will also determine how a programme is developed. For example, larger groups typically need private dining options, while smaller groups often want to be in the middle of the action to soak up the buzz of a vibrant restaurant or bar.

Who can win, what are their roles and demographics?

In our experience, different demographics prefer different styles of incentive travel, so we always encourage employers to think about the people who are eligible to win any given reward. We would design different programmes for a group of mostly under 30s travelling as singles and those who are 30-50-years old travelling with their life partners. This would include both the destinations, and the activities they do while out there. 

The roles can similarly affect where you might choose as a destination. Employees in managerial or executive roles might prefer a more relaxed, luxury retreat, while those in hands-on, operation roles might seek adventure. 

Successful incentive trips are all about understanding your employees and what motivates them. 

What’s been done before, and what can you learn from it? 

Have you or sister organisations run incentive programmes before? What learnings can you take from that to improve your next one? What hotels and locations were preferred by the team, were there particular times of the year that were better, and was it better to have just the team or team and guests? All of this data will help ensure the most calibrated incentive trip for your team. Knowing what has been done previously will also help you understand the expectations and aspirations of your team. 

Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from other people too. Look at what third-party vendors are offering, and see whether there are any ideas that might be particularly appealing to your team. 

What is the measurement period? When will winners be announced?

The measurement period refers to the timeframe during which employee performance is evaluated for eligibility to win the incentive travel. This period could span a quarter, half a year, or an entire year, depending on the goals and structure of your incentive program. The end of this period typically coincides with the announcement of the winners, making for a nice opportunity to celebrate achievement and hard work.

The timing of the winner announcement inherently informs when the group can travel. For instance, if the winners of a yearlong program are announced in March, planning the travel soon after the announcement can serve as an immediate reward, increasing its impact.

The timings can also inform where the team can travel, as you will want to factor in weather and seasonal conditions of any location you choose. For example, Dubai is popular in March as it is good timing for the results of a yearlong programme, if accessing the sun is important.

Is this just for employees, or can winners bring a guest?

There are definitely benefits to both approaches, and it is worth considering at the earliest stages of planning. By restricting the reward to just employees, you are able to reward more people within your team, and it presents a great opportunity for building esprit de corps in participant groups.

If you allow winners to bring guests, then their demographics are likely to shape who the guest will be, and in turn might play a role in shaping what kind of travel experience you arrange. Younger winners tend to bring mates, siblings, and even colleagues. Meanwhile, older winners tend to bring life partners. 

For singles or relatively younger winners with mates as guests we tend to suggest city properties with good access to nightlife. For older winners with life partners there is a greater attractiveness to resort style offerings. However, these these are generalisations based on our observations – every group is unique and 

What are the internal policy considerations?

How do your company policies influence your choices? You might decide to venture to countries outside where participants are located, or perhaps your environmental policies make a domestic option more suitable. Do your internal asset protection teams have opinions on the perceived and actual safety of any location? It could be that you steer clear of countries with laws that clash with your organisation’s values, for example on matters such as LGBTQ+ rights. Above all else, you need to ensure your employees feel comfortable and safe with their destination – this is meant to be a reward, after all!

What’s the budget? 

It is bound to come up at some point, but the budget will play a big role in the type of incentive trip you decide upon. And that doesn’t just mean how many people you can take or where you take them (although that’s important) but also how you decide to prioritise the budget. Do you want the focus to be on a luxury hotel, an amazing programme of activities, or going where further afield. 

The good news is that using our 24 years of experience (and our directors both have in excess of 30 years’ experience) of helping clients achieve the biggest motivational bang for our client’s budgetary buck, we can help you to imagine, create, plan and deliver an amazing incentive.

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If you have a challenge, call us on +44 (0)1452 733300 or email us at