Incentive travel inspires, motivates and excites staff. Using travel as an incentive for staff can be up to twice as effective as using cash or merchandise as a reward, and 76% of employees have said they’re motivated when rewarded with travel. That said, it’s always worth looking at how your motivational tools can be improved.
To understand why travel works and how you can get more out of it, it’s worth looking at why incentive travel is more valuable to staff than a cash reward, as employees view travel with a different sense of significance than other rewards.
Travel rewards are satisfying, valuable, and compel employees to apply effort to reach them. The major sources of the value with incentive travel are justifiability, social reinforcement and separation.
Justifiability is removing the need for employees to feel guilty about an indulgence which they would have to justify to themselves or a partner otherwise.
The social reinforcement aspect helps make talking about rewards more socially acceptable by taking rewards out of the potentially uncomfortable area of salaries and cash, allowing employees to share their enthusiasm for an incentive.
Cash rewards become more salary, subject to the same stresses and limitations as cash itself. Travel incentives are viewed in isolation, increasing the anticipated and experienced joy of the reward.
These three elements converge to make travel a highly motivating factor for hitting targets, and a source of positive sentiment towards employers long after travel has ended.
How to get more motivation from incentive travel
A 2014 study from Monmouth University surveyed 1,003 employees eligible to receive travel incentives and asked what they find motivating in travel rewards. While they unsurprisingly found travel to be a highly motivating reward, they offered some interesting insights on how it could be more effective. Employee feedback singled out:
More unscheduled time at the destination
Employees surveyed strongly indicated they’d appreciate more free time to set their own agenda and forge some unique experiences of their own at a destination.
With time swallowed up reaching a destination, it might be worth considering a trip closer to home to minimise time spent in airport terminals if it’s not practical to extend the trip itself.
More choice of destinations
Employees have very different ideas on what they’d like to get from their travel, and it would be wise to canvass employees ahead of time with a spectrum of options before setting plans in stone.
Increased promotion of the travel incentive on offer
A large portion of employees indicated they’d like to see more enthusiasm and promotion from inside their organisation for their travel rewards.
As we mentioned earlier justifiability of a trip is tied to the expenses an individual employee will incur to enjoy it. A clear majority of staff said they’d be more motivated by travel if it cost them less, in particular all-inclusive destinations.
Motivation red herrings
The study found some, perhaps surprising, areas where the surveyed employees didn’t form any clear overall opinion about what would make their travel more motivating. These included:
No mandatory activities
While employees do want more time unassigned on their company travel, there was no clear move to say they didn’t want to attend mandatory team events while there.
Being able to bring guests
Employees didn’t show any major opinion in any direction about being able to take guests on travel incentive trips with their co-workers.
Levels of awards
There was no significant feedback to indicate employees would like to see their travel rewards broken up into tiers.
While you’re likely already seeing great results from teams incentivised with travel rewards, getting teams to push a department or project over the next big hurdle might require you to have a look at optimising these rewards and seeing how they can extract even greater success from a team.