Travel-based incentives and rewards are still a key employee motivator, according to a study by Site International Foundation and the Incentive Travel Council (ITC) of the Incentive Marketing Association. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The final instalment of the study, entitled 'Incentive Travel: The Participant's Viewpoint', revealed that more than 86% of respondents feel recognised by earning motivational travel.

The study took an in-depth look at what makes incentive travel reward programmes motivational, meaningful and memorable, and explored participant attitudes toward their companies, colleagues, and other types of motivational programme awards.

Among the key findings of the study:

  • 95.5% of qualifiers said they were extremely motivated, motivated or a little motivated to earn the travel reward.
  • 90.7 of non-earners were similarly motivated even though they did not receive the award.
  • 72.4% of earners reported an increased feeling of loyalty toward the company that provided the award.

Incentive travel programmes currently address diverse objectives, ranging from attracting and retaining talent, fostering teamwork and encouraging safety, to building morale, loyalty, and sales.

"Participants make a conscious choice to engage and at any point can choose to disengage," said Jim Ruszala, former president of the ITC and project co-chair. "When it comes to programme design there is a simple yet important factor to consider: the participant's choice for engagement."

Gathering participants' input about programme design elements (destination, schedule, duration, etc.) and understanding what participants take away (time with leadership and peers, an experience they would not have on their own, etc.) are both important considerations to ensure an incentive travel programme is motivational to participants. In addition, creating a memorable experience relies on the participant's emotional level of intensity.

Measurement of the success of these programmes should therefore go beyond the initial favourable or unfavourable response to include factors such as:

  • How the programme influenced behaviour before, during and afterward.
  • How well the programme met participant expectations.
  • How well the programme supported the organisation's vision, mission, values and culture by better connecting with participants.

"This study supports the idea that programmes offering incentive travel as a key motivator continue to be seen as meaningful and desirable from the participant's viewpoint," concluded Steve O'Malley, former president of the Site International Foundation and project co-chair. "The attitudes and attention of today's workforce are rapidly evolving, and understanding what people perceive as being worth their time and effort is the key to unleashing the real potential of people-powered businesses."