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Trending: Travel Incentive Experiences (Guest Blog)

Recently, someone shared with me their observation that my approach to the process of travel planning is more like that of an artist, working on my next creation. The comparison resonated with me on a deep level, prompting me to look up the definition of ART and this is what I found: art (ärt/) noun […]

Recently, someone shared with me their observation that my approach to the process of travel planning is more like that of an artist, working on my next creation. The comparison resonated with me on a deep level, prompting me to look up the definition of ART and this is what I found:

art (ärt/) noun

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

I thought this definition fully captured the essence and heartbeat of how I, along with the travel design team at Xceleration, approach each new client. The last few years have seen a steady increase in the companies using incentive travel to reward their top producers. Here at Xceleration, I believe we have pioneered and are reinventing the way it is done. Our unique approach to incentive travel is shaking up the corporate rewards and incentive industry, offering companies an exciting, different way to motivate and engage their employees or sales force.

In the past, almost 30 years, I have seen the travel industry change in just about every conceivable way, including which destinations are trending and the frequency and length of the average vacation. Most importantly, I have seen the reason behind why we travel change drastically.  These days, people are traveling for the experience more than any other reason.  This is a pretty dramatic shift and an interesting one to consider.  Thanks to technology, we literally have the world at our fingertips. However, the need to immerse ourselves and really FEEL a destination drives us more than anything else. It is here, at this junction, where our approach to travel at Xceleration gives us a leading edge.  This is where we go from planners to creative artists, creating experiences that will be appreciated for their emotional power.

Knowing this fact and believing the need for EXPERIENCES motivates people in a profound and long-lasting way, we come at the design process with a blank canvas and an open mind bent toward creativity with each new program and client.  Our goal is to create fresh new strategies to help motivate our clients’ employees in a way that will be a win for everyone.  We understand the “one-size-fits-all” approach to travel incentives no longer works as a motivator.  Packaged and “off-the-shelf” travel plans are boring and unexciting on every level; they don’t fill the desire for the travel experience being sought after in today’s world at all, especially for millennials. So, what does work?  We believe that creative, specially tailored, individual incentive programs are the key to driving the success on both an individual and corporate level.

What does that kind of travel look like with Xceleration?  Well, when my team designs a trip to Italy, we don’t just point and click the traveler all the way to Rome.  We, as REAL LIFE humans, take the time to really get to know and understand the travelers-then craft perfect adventures based on our conversations.  Do you, as an example, want to visit Mama in her house and learn how to make her generations-old secret lasagna? No problem, we can arrange it.  Do you want to walk through the Vatican at your own pace, long after the crowds have left? Done.  Sing in the center of the oldest known and acoustically perfect amphitheater in the ruins of Pompeii?  We can make that happen, too. We understand tailored travel experiences have a ripple effect in the lives of employees well after they have returned from their trip. We also understand this unique slant on travel incentives reaches well beyond increasing motivation…it also cultivates a sense of rejuvenation that may also result in a happier, more productive workforce.


Custom-tailored “experience travel” is the current in-demand incentive, and trips centering around the food of a specific region tops that list.

This high-touch and custom approach is why Xceleration is changing the game.  Aside from the innovation and years of experiences, our travel design team members are inspired by and are passionate about travel experiences.  The companies that we work with trust that we will thrill the hearts of their top achievers with our custom travel plans, simultaneously driving productivity and loyalty for them!

Do you need to breathe inspiration into your existing incentive travel program? Have you thought about offering one, but the “same old, same old” just doesn’t seem like an effective solution? I personally invite you to consider how the blank-canvas approach, used by the travel-design team here at Xceleration, could motivate your team.  Together we can create a masterpiece that is sure to fire up your team with options and experiences they thought only existed in their dreams.

Laura Hildenbrandt is Xceleration’s Director of Travel Design and has been designing luxury and corporate travel experiences for over two decades. For more information, contact Laura and her team of experienced travel professionals at laurah@xceleration.com or conciergetravel@xceleration.com

Editor’s note: Find more on our series covering travel rewards and incentives at the following links:

Re-Imagining Travel Incentives

The Hidden Value of Travel Rewards

Alleviating the Risk of Travel Rewards

Five Great Reasons to Offer Travel Rewards


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