Understanding the events industry: what is incentive travel?

4 mins

Incentive travel is a unique reward that turns professional achievements into once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Offering incentive travel to employees can be a gift they remember long after their end of year appraisal. Keeping a team motivated is not always easy. Cash bonuses and gifts can be fleeting and absorbed into daily living expenses. Incentive travel offers lifelong memories and a tangible reward for high achievers.

What is incentive travel? 

Imagine traveling the world as a thanks for achieving your monthly work targets. Incentive trips can encourage and improve relationships and facilitate team bonding away from the usual pressures of the working world and an office environment.  It’s a chance to access exclusive experiences such as backstage tours and VIP meetings that are usually out of reach. For incentive travel planners, it’s an opportunity to transform monthly targets into extraordinary experiences. It's the ultimate thank you for hitting goals, milestones and making a difference in the company.  

How does incentive travel fit into the events industry?

Incentive travel is the “I" in MICE—a European term for the business events industry that stands for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. It’s a prominent part of the events industry that aims to motivate and inspire its attendees.

Incentive travel’s focus is engaging employees and increasing loyalty.

Incentive travel planners can join SITE Global, an association dedicated to incentive travel with 2,650 members in 90 countries.

plane window view

Why do companies choose incentive travel as a benefit?

Incentive travel can be a driving force for employees across the business as well as for candidates looking for new positions. Incentive travel can fuel employees to go above and beyond and increase employee engagement across a company. It can also offer motivation during busy periods of the year. This can translate into excellent results and improved employee performance.

Planning an incentive travel trip

Now you know why businesses plan and use incentive travel as a reward and company benefit, how do you plan one?

Here’s what you need to think about when you plan an incentive travel program.

Understand the objectives

Make sure you understand the objectives of the trip before you start planning and budgeting. You can do this by having an in-depth meeting about what your attendees might want. Is the trip to reward their high-performing employees, strengthen the bond of a top team or something else? Clarifying the why of the trip will set a good foundation for planning an unforgettable experience.

Consider partnering with an incentive travel agency or destination management company(DMC)

A DMC or incentive travel agency can help to craft a memorable and tailored experience for your attendees. A DMC’s expertise and relationships with local vendors can help with negotiating prices and source venues as well as activities and experiences. Incentive travel agencies are travel and destination experts who can help to craft personalized, wow-factor incentive travel programs.

Yacht on the water

Select a destination that aligns with your goals

When researching a destination that aligns with your goals there’s a lot to consider. From weather to the culture—evaluate what a destination can offer.

Tailor the itinerary according to your attendees


Align what’s on the itinerary to your attendees wants and needs as well as the goals of the trip.

Communicate with your attendees ahead of time

Keep your attendees engaged and excited before the trip. You can create anticipation with a dedicated website that included details of the trip and teasers for activities. You can also use emails to regularly update your attendees with new information, such as their schedules and what to pack.

Consider any health and safety measures

Ensure your incentive travel program complies with health and safety guidelines—if you’re working with a DMC or incentive travel agency, they can help with this. Inform your attendees about vaccinations and travel insurance.

Remember that an incentive travel trip isn’t always about luxury. It’s about creating lasting memories and engaging employees. Personalization, attention to detail and meticulous planning are key to executing a memorable incentive travel trip.

View from a small boat

Join us at IMEX and discover the latest trends and research in incentive travel from industry experts all while meeting with destinations, DMCs and luxury hotels to inspire your incentive travel programs. Join SITE Nite to meet and build connections with incentive travel professionals on Monday evening before the show starts.

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About the author

Charley Murfitt is IMEX's Content Producer. She is a proud advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and the circular economy.

Charley Murfitt

Content Producer

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