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Five incentive trends for 2019

Incentives Project Support Manager and inVOYAGE 2018 participant Sophie Darbon forecasts the key trends in incentive travel for 2019 and beyond…

Incentive programmes have become a huge phenomenon over the last few years but especially throughout 2018. We have seen an influx of clients wanting to reward their employees for all of their hard work and efforts by incorporating an incentive trip that is personalised to the individual. With this in mind, we have outlined 5 key trends that we believe are key to the incentive industry, paving a way for future businesses that haven’t already, invested in incentive programmes.

Trend 1: Bigger focus on wellbeing
2018 was a big year surrounding the topic of wellbeing and mental health; driving focus on self-care and how to deal with stress and pressures within the workplace. As a result, many clients are beginning to focus on wellbeing with their incentive trips. This may include appealing activities that gets everyone together to de-stress such as yoga classes on stunning beaches, use of spa facilities, cookery classes, a walk up a mountain to see the sunrise – anything to feed the soul.

Trend 2: Increase in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects
We are noticing a rise to push and drive CSR projects for companies within incentive programmes. CSR projects are in place for a number of reasons – they help to increase the development of local communities, enhance your reputation as a company and help to create new relationships with various organisations. CSR projects are great for any employee to get involved with as this helps to pave a way to develop new skills, providing a platform for a sense of purpose and fulfilment within a workplace.

Clients are planning ahead and creating larger build up communication pre-event within their business, to help entice and make their employees aware and be socially responsible for the organisation. Whilst CSR projects may initially bring to mind tasks such as building schools in local communities, there are also smaller, and equally as effective activities that can be part of a CSR project. Some of our clients have incorporated a physical activity during the trip which guests raise money for in the run up to the trip, whilst others have taken incentive winners to local charities and projects and helped for an afternoon. We believe that the focus on CSR will only continue to grow, so, watch this space!

Trend 3: More clients are travelling further afield
Long haul destinations such as Mexico, Malaysia, and Colombia have seen a soaring increase within incentive travel. Clients are choosing ever-popular and highly desirable destinations which not only offer compelling activities and experiences but are also value for money. Short haul destinations such as Iceland, Spain, Italy and Croatia are still in demand, but having a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel further away for a short period of time with a carefully planned itinerary is something companies are wanting to reward their employees with. Many clients that have operated incentives for a number of years are finding that these far-flung destinations are incentivising their employees more, and often have not been travelled to by lone travellers. The increase in distance travelled is reflective of the leisure industry. Here in the UK we are seeing new flight routes opening up, such as Qantas flying direct to Perth via a 17-hour flight – making a more convenient travel experience for people to fly long haul. This will definitely be a trendsetter for 2019 and beyond.

Trend 4: Personalisation
Personalisation is a key part to the employee experience allowing companies to create a unique journey for each employee. Having an experience personalised to the individual is something, we are noticing, people love. Luxury can come in different forms for different people, so by having a variety of activities planned and offering guests choice within their planned itineraries gives them a sense of involvement which often results in increased buy-in. Here, at Penguins, we offer personalisation opportunities to our clients by a number of different means, be it through registration or an incentive trip app, or even on site in a destination. We find that this focus on flexibility is resulting in fantastic feedback from our trip attendees, ultimately providing success for our clients.

Trend 5: Bigger communications programmes around incentives
With all that being said, the major trend that will probably see an increase very quickly is the way in which businesses communicate programmes around incentives. We predict that there will be a vast increase in internal communications plans that build up to and follow on from the actual trip itself. Internal communications may include an increased use of video through employee testimonials, summarising their experiences on previous trips, or simply drip-feed information about the trip itinerary slowly to guests ahead of travel. This is all great content to use as it shows personal experiences to others who might not have been on an incentive trip yet, thus encouraging them further to achieve a place on the next trip. Penguins has been working closely with our in-house digital and communications teams at drp in order to provide new and exciting communications solutions to our incentive travel clients.

So, there you have it, some top incentive trends for 2019 that we think will take over the MICE industry by storm. Incentives across the board are becoming more popular and companies are constantly on the hunt to find the most unique experiences and destinations to reward their teams with. However, the – ultimate – aim is to see a rise in people getting involved with wider incentives communication programmes within their work life culture. Watch this space!




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