(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by Xceleration, an organization focused on creating employee engagement, sales incentive, and customer loyalty programs. For over 20 years, Xceleration has provided cutting-edge employee recognition and incentive solutions, and their unique “Travel by Design” programs help businesses incorporate unforgettable experiences into their reward offerings. Enjoy the article!)
I ran across this article from Fast Company magazine talking about “The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things”. It’s a fascinating read. Be sure to check it out when you have a moment. My takeaway from the article was that organizations might want to spend some time thinking about what makes for a meaningful thank-you to employees. And, ask them, “Should we consider rewarding employees with experiences, like travel incentives, versus things?”
Individual travel incentives are a customizable option for recognizing employees with a personal travel experience, which can be taken solo or with a partner. And they can boast an incredible return-on-investment (ROI). If your organization hasn’t ever considered a travel incentive before, here are four reasons why both the organization and employees might love them.
- Cost. Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room. Offering individual travel incentives and rewards for significant accomplishments doesn’t impact your bottom line as much as you may think. For example, if the company’s top salesperson exceeds last year’s goal by 10%, that 10% represents a substantial revenue increase to your company. And, the company can allocate a small portion of that increase as a travel reward. That’s a big win for everyone.
When thinking about how much to spend on a travel incentive, keep in mind that there are plenty of locales that can offer a great experience without breaking the bank. Examples include: a fun weekend in New Orleans, a getaway to Sedona for some world-class hiking and sightseeing, or even a trip to New York to check out a couple of museums or a Broadway show. It is possible to find a domestic destination that fits your budget.
- Flexibility. Another obstacle that comes up when discussing travel incentives is the “old school” model which typically involved a company group trip, usually with senior leadership, managers, and co-workers, to a pre-determined location at a pre-determined time. As you might imagine, some employees found this to be somewhat less than enticing, much less rewarding. Even if you like your boss and colleagues, chances are you do not want to go on vacation with them. Okay, maybe some of you do and that’s fine. You can still do that with a travel reward.
But for those employees who want to share the experience of travel with their family or friends, let them! Letting your employees choose their destination, their travel window, and with whom they get to travel is a massive incentive. This flexibility allows the organization to shift what might be seen as an obligatory company trip into an actual, meaningful reward.
- Appreciation. Now that we’ve gotten the cost and scheduling conversations out of the way, remember the purpose of this benefit: to recognize employees for their hard work and accomplishments. When organizations make a big deal out of rewarding employees, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how long employees will remember. This totally links to the Fast Company article above about objects losing their shine faster than experiences.
As someone who has worked in the travel industry, trust me when I say this: travel perks are cool. It’s one of the reasons that people work in the industry. Companies (outside of the travel industry) that offer travel incentives are capitalizing on the cool factor by giving employees the perks of their industry – whatever it might be – PLUS the perks of travel.
- Well-being. Finally, with all of the talk about wellness and well-being, it’s important to note that time away from work can re-energize the employee. It can provide some stress relief. The employee returns to work feeling great, and they’ll bring that positivity back with them to the office, sharing the experience with their co-workers through photos, stories, and the like. Oh, and don’t forget that employees might also want to share their experience on social media, which could be great for the organization’s employment brand.
This raises another point. Sending an employee on an incentive trip has effects beyond just the traveler. Travel incentives and rewards can also drive performance of the rest of the team. For instance, if I see how my colleague Leonard went on a fabulous trip and came back all refreshed, I might want a trip too. Call it a little office jealously if you will. But, when administered correctly, travel incentives can help the team as well as the individual.
Travel Incentives Offer A Reward Within the Reward
As the recruiting market continues to challenge businesses, we need to find new ways to stand out in the crowd – both from a candidate and an employee perspective. While there’s nothing wrong with cash bonuses, they do tend to just be used to pay the bills. It seems to me that, if organizations want to stand out, then the way to thank employees is by sending them to the beach, where they can sip on a Piña Colada and soak up the rays. Not on a few dollars to fill up their gas tank or pay the electric bill.
Travel incentives offer unique experiences to employees. Due to their fun and glamorous nature, they can have a higher perceived value. That’s what makes travel a powerful incentive to do great work and exceed goals. If you want to learn more about how travel incentives and rewards can help your employee recognition efforts, be sure to check out the Xceleration blog.23