6 Company Benefits from Providing Individualized Employee Travel Incentives


In 2015, the Stanford University School of Medicine began the Stanford Letter Project to conduct research into people’s “bucket lists,” or those things they most want to do before they die. 

Although the project’s primary purpose was to encourage people to prepare for end-of-life discussions, the study revealed important insights into what people most want out of their lives.

Participants could list up to five different items. Their lists covered the gamut across the 3,056 people surveyed but fell overwhelmingly within six common themes:

  • The desire to travel (78.5% of all respondents)
  • The desire to achieve a personal goal (78.3%)
  • The desire to complete specific life milestones (51%)
  • The desire to share more quality time with family and friends (16.7%)
  • The desire to reach financial stability (16.1%)
  • The desire to carry out a daring activity (15%)

Are you surprised that travel ranked at the top of the list? Nearly four out of five respondents chose travel as something they most want to pursue before they die. Travel outranked even their desire to achieve any other personal goals they may have.

No wonder more organizations are offering travel incentives for employees. Forty-five percent (45%) of top-performing companies provide incentive travel, compared to 22% in 2019.

The Impact of Travel

When looking for an employee incentive that will make a significant and lasting impact on the recipients, their peers, and the organization, you can’t go wrong with travel.

In today’s labor market, it’s especially critical to achieving business goals that you hire the best talent and find ways to keep them happy and retain them longer. 

This is especially true in the wake of the Great Resignation. Beginning in early 2021, more than four million people left their jobs each month. The trend continues, although the pace has slowed. About 23% of workers are looking for a position with a different employer in 2022. When looking at only remote-based workers, that number increases to 24%.

Travel incentives have been used as an employee motivation tool for nearly half a century. However, they have grown in popularity recently as employers realize that raises and bonuses no longer have the same impact as before.

Today’s travel incentives, as opposed to those provided in the 1970s, have one significant difference: their individualized nature. Rather than sending a group of employees on a joint trip to a common destination, today’s travel incentives have become much more customizable. 

The employee is rewarded with an individual trip for themselves and a guest, often getting to choose the destination from among several options.

Modern employees are extremely motivated by perks and rewards that are meaningful and personalized. This is especially true among younger generations, including Millennials and GenZ. 

Travel incentives can align individual and corporate goals and culture. It’s accepted that today’s employees generally feel more appreciated and trusted when rewarded with travel incentives than with a material gift. 

Travel incentives also help address employee yearning and pent-up demand for travel and socialization due to the pandemic.

How Travel Incentives Benefit the
Sponsoring Employer

Travel incentives are primary motivators

All companies want to hire and retain engaged employees who work continuously to exceed expectations. But finding new ways to motivate that behavior seems to get harder each year.

One type of incentive that continues to grow in popularity is experiential rewards, especially travel. These are considerably more effective than cash in motivating employees to achieve.

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) has found that travel incentive programs can increase productivity by as much as 18%, providing three times the performance lift as the same value in cash.

Those are hard numbers to ignore. 

Travel incentives are highly memorable.

When given cash-based rewards, most employees wind up using them to cover routine bills or pay a little more toward debt. As pleased as they may be to be able to do that, most won’t remember a year later what they used the money for.

On the other hand, an experiential reward makes memories that can remain vivid for years. The employee comes home with photos, souvenirs, and stories that, for most, will far outlast any satisfaction they may have gained from receiving the cash equivalent.

Employees who have been rewarded with a travel incentive remember their experiences — the luxurious or exotic location, exciting activities, delicious food – and work hard to earn a repeat.

Allowing the employee to bring a guest or their family increases enjoyment, enhances memorability and sparks even more appreciation for their employer’s role in providing a meaningful experience they can share with people they care about.

Travel incentives are customizable.

Employees are individuals who need more than a “one size fits all” incentive. What thrills one person can be utterly boring to another. The rain forest hiking trip on one employee’s bucket list may hold little interest to their scuba-diving colleague, who would rather be exploring a reef off the coast.

Travel incentive programs allow companies to customize rewards, demonstrating to employees that they are recognized as unique individuals.

Similarly, incentive travel can be tailored to fit your company’s financial resources. A trip doesn’t have to be “over the top” to be meaningful to the recipient.

Travel incentives provide guilt-free indulgences.

Humans have an innate desire to explore. If money and time were not an object, most of us would frequently travel to see new things.

By providing travel incentives, employers help workers indulge in adventures they might never get to go on otherwise due to other holds on their time and money. They might even get to cross something off their bucket list!

Don’t underestimate the long-term value of holding that special place in their thoughts, even briefly.

Travel incentives enhance corporate reputation.

If there’s anything the pandemic taught us, it’s the importance of mental well-being. To perform at their best, employees need regularly scheduled time away from work. 

Providing travel incentive perks can help your company build a reputation for supporting and promoting mental health and wellness, and this can do nothing but drive interest in the labor force towards your company 

Travel incentives facilitate employee recruitment.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing better with recruiting after experiencing the cultural and reputation-building impact of offering travel-based employee incentives.

Workers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to share their experiences on Indeed, Glassdoor, Great Place to Work and similar sites. Incentive travel can be a significant weapon in your battle to attract and keep the best and the brightest. 

Xceleration Leads the Way

Offering incentive rewards is key to effective employee recognition, and few things resonate like travel. But perhaps you’re concerned about what’s involved in planning and executing a beneficial travel incentive program for your organization.

Xceleration’s Luxury Concierge Travel division creates customized packages that let your employees enjoy their rewards and go where they want with the people they like. We also arrange corporate group travel for those work events in memorable locations. Contact us today for more information! 

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