Cash may be king, but travel is a new threat to the throne, and it comes with a trunk full of advantages for both employees and the company. Forever, cash bonuses have been the incentives that appear to get the most mileage. That is now changing, and a younger workforce may be behind the movement. […]
Cash may be king, but travel is a new threat to the throne, and it comes with a trunk full of advantages for both employees and the company.
Forever, cash bonuses have been the incentives that appear to get the most mileage. That is now changing, and a younger workforce may be behind the movement.
Laura Hildenbrandt is Director of Travel Design for Xceleration and has worked in the travel industry for two decades. She says experience-based incentives are driving the motivation bus for younger team members.
“About 5-7 years ago, we started to see millennials making their own income and thriving in the marketplace,” Hildenbrandt explains. “A lot of them already had electronics and material things, so they started to focus on spending their discretionary dollars on things that would live on in their heads and in their hearts.”
Cash is fleeting, but experiences last forever. That’s absolutely the basis for the migration to travel incentives, according to Mark Houck, Director of New Business Development for Xceleration.
“Cash typically goes in the bank and pays for that new roof, or they spend it on needs vs. wants.” Houck says. “You want your people picturing themselves, on a daily basis, on a beach somewhere sipping a Mai Tai.”
Not just any travel incentive will do. The days of scheduled group trips with your co-workers and managers are fading in favor of highly customized excursions to sometimes exotic locations.
“Whether you like them a lot or not, you don’t want to travel with the people you work with,” Hildenbrandt says. “You have to go when they tell you to go, you have to travel with people you already work with, you have to go to the destination they chose, and you have to have the experiences on the ground that the company pre-designed. And it becomes more of a burden than a trip.”
Individual, customized trips that are managed by a third party are highly motivating, and it’s this trend that is pushing the old model out the door. Employees can pick their own dates, they can take their families, and choose their own destinations. They can even choose their own off-the-beaten-path experiences.
As the world gets smaller, Hildenbrandt explains, these experiences can really leave a mark.
“If you’ve seen The Da Vinci Code, you feel like you’ve seen Rome. We like to give experiences in all of these places that they are visiting so they come back and talk about them to their friends and colleagues, like a private gladiator experience at The Coliseum where they suit up and learn how to fight.”
If this all seems outrageously expensive, imagine the cost of a trip compared to the results you will see when your entire team outperforms what they did last year while working towards these high-end travel experiences.
Houck drives this point home. “When you can get salespeople engaged on achieving those wants, that’s a powerful motivator – on a day-to-day basis – to make those extra five sales calls at the end of a day.”