Could helping toward the cost of a holiday with a travel incentive be the most desirable way to reward or incentivise employees? Research from American Express Travellers Cheques suggests that more than one in three people will refuse to forego their summer holiday, despite money being tight. Instead, they will ration their daily treats in the run-up to summer! It’s clear that travel is something we all really value. And with grey skies around, who can blame anyone?

With people feeling so strongly about taking time off, yet holiday costs rising, are travel incentives becoming one of the most desirable rewards and incentives to offer to employees?Travel is a strong motivator and a highly aspirational form of reward, and Simon White of Protravel certainly believes that there has been an increase in companies looking to incorporate holiday packages and related elements into their incentive, reward and recognition programmes. With household budgets continuing to be stretched, many people are having to scale down, or cut out altogether, their annual holiday abroad or short breaks.


For employers, this is not good news as the benefits of holidays are well-documented – employees who have time off to rest and relax return to work feeling more productive and perform more effectively than those who don’t take annual leave. Not only does it have a good effect on health, well being and general happiness, holidays are also inspirational and aspirational and therefore ideal for motivating employees to work effectively and to their full potential.White points to the fact that holidays have always proven to be particular popular as a reward for top performers, while travel clubs where employees can buy discounted package holiday deals or build their own package of flights, accommodation and car hire at significantly reduced rates, are increasing in popularity as a universal employee benefit.


So, if people still aspire to taking holidays, how can businesses turn this desire to their own, and their employees’, advantage and, with something as complex as a holiday to arrange, where do you begin? The starting point is to ask yourself a few all-important questions. Start looking at what is being rewarded and the budget for the rewards. Is it long service, sales targets, group targets, attendance or something else? Then, it is important to ascertain how many people are likely to be rewarded – a select few, or many more?The structure of the programme also needs to be decided, for example, will it be a points-based programme whereby participants earn points for positive actions that can be redeemed against travel rewards? Is it a team or group reward, such as go-karting and pizza for all, or a weekend break for an individual?”Perhaps you can elect to allow employees to choose from various ‘packaged’ events, such as weekend breaks and beach holidays.An alternative is to issue a monetary reward, which allows the recipient to discuss their individual circumstances with a travel representative and use their own funds to create the holiday they really want.Choosing the right destination and type of resort is the next step – sending people to a luxurious resort is fantastic, but it can be costly while winners are there. You want the individual to return to the office feeling replenished and hungry for more, not concerned about the bill they have just run up! If companies do feel concerned about this element there are plenty of ways to ensure this doesn’t happen within the majority of budgets.Another option is to offer people the choice – this way they get what they want.  Their expectations are managed and it can appeal to not only them, but their family as well. Work life balance is essential, so some excellent family options can work perfectly.But it’s not just about the individual who ‘wins’ the holiday. Although their experience must be a positive and fulfilling one in order to make it a worthy reward or incentive, it must also be one that everyone in the company gets to hear about. That way, other employees can be inspired to take up the gauntlet and do their best to achieve a holiday of their own – paid for by their employer.Although the lucky employee is likely to talk to their immediate colleagues informally about their holiday, their circle of influence will not be wide enough to capture enough people’s imagination. Why not encourage the winner to showcase their trip on social media or on internal channels or apps?So, the employer that invests in travel incentives may well reap their own rewards, but it will take a solid brief, clear objectives and a steady flow of communication to create a successful incentive programme or reward scheme that involves travel.Employers that offer travel as a reward to those who contribute positively to the business will see great results-  not only immediately afterwards, but also ongoing if the rewards are communicated through well-planned motivation schemes throughout the year. By offering tiered rewards, for example, a universal reward such as access to a discounted travel club, then above that team rewards, and at the top individual rewards, will ensure that everyone is motivated and has something to strive for.