Incentive travel is a long-established motivational reward for employee achievement and improvement. It is known for strengthening bonds, helping employees to feel a sense of company pride, and for increasing loyalty.
Traditionally, incentive travel involves more lavish experiences such as glamourous gala dinners or behind the scenes tours of museums or sports stadiums.
Now, an up-and-coming trend is challenging the norm.
The travel sector is seeing more and more travellers seeking opportunities for self-actualisation, personal development, and growth.
This trend has been dubbed Transformative Travel and it’s given incentive travel a renewed sense of purpose.
Transformative travel has been driven by the rise of the Millennial generation, who typically value life experiences and authenticity highly. Millennials want experiences to teach them something new about themselves.
A survey from Eventbrite, found that 78% of Millennial respondents would rather spend money on an experience than a thing, with 77% saying their best memories come from experiences – 69% say that experiences make them feel more connected to their communities, other people and the world.
(Looking to engage millennials? Read The Event Organiser’s Guide to Millennials & Generation Z)
The same study reports the ‘experience bug’ has been caught by more than just Millennials; since 1987, the portion of US consumer spending devoted to experiences and events has increased by 70%.
This statistic presents the idea that participants from all generations are seeking personal experiences that are more original than the programme destination. These travellers are seeking unique experiences that change them in ways they may not even be aware of.
Examples range from trekking into the mountains and staying with locals, to silent meditation retreats, or enrolling in community volunteer work. The list of transformational opportunities is almost endless, but should include three essential elements: connection, personalisation, and authenticity.
The Transformational Travel Council promotes it like this – transformative travel is a “HERO” –
- Traveling with Heart
- Seeking Engagement
- Having the Resolve to work through challenges
- Leaving your heart, mind, and soul Open to the unknown
It’s an approach that works for corporate groups, because it gets people out of their usual mindset and exposes them to new ways of being and thinking, it’s a short cut to shaking up their lives and perspectives.
If there are any learnings from this shift, it is that one size does not necessarily fit all; employers should make the effort to understand what their team are passionate about by listening to them with a vision to develop incentive travel experiences with customised elements – this act of thoughtfulness can make a big difference.
So challenge your incentive travel groups, take them into the unknown and uncover their distinctive desires; engage them personally and you will create a lasting impression that can change their behaviour.