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How to Maximise Incentive Travel ROI

Written by: Tricia Mikolai
(View Author Bio)

Incentive travel can sometimes seem like a commodity: the only thing that changes is the destination. However, this kind of reward is consistently rated as the most motivational and highly coveted – greater than cash, gift vouchers and award points.

If there is a disconnect in your organisation between the spend and the value of incentive travel, it’s time to look at the design at the front end of the program. You can tangibly demonstrate how your program is producing results.

Are you rewarding the right people?

The purpose of the incentive is to get people to reach and over-achieve their targets. If the program is designed to reward the same people year after year, only that small segment of your sales force will give any attention to the incentive. Are those people truly making a big enough impact for you to show an ROI on the program spend? If you don’t know, it’s time to measure. And if they aren’t, it may be that you’re running a loyalty program rather than an incentive program.

Are you using the right metrics?

The best incentive structures will give everyone an equal opportunity to achieve, taking into consideration:

  • Experience (new hires and tenured professionals)
  • Product mix (access to sell the same widgets)
  • Customer segment (selling in low-population versus highly populated geographies)
  • Market segment (number of high-volume versus low-volume accounts)

Sometimes people don’t feel they have a good chance at earning, and they look for ways to justify not being engaged in the program. By anticipating their objections and normalising the metrics, you can increase their motivation and keep them engaged over a longer period of time.

Are you rewarding the right behaviours?

It seems obvious that sales people should be rewarded for meeting their sales targets. While that is vital, it’s also important to look at how they’re representing your brand. Are they meeting sales targets at the expense of internal relationships? Do they form solid customer relationships? Do they follow processes or instead create a lot of work for their support teams? Do they demonstrate your values? Are they just in it for the money?

These kinds of sales people may have their place in your organisation, but should they be rewarded as the crème de la crème? By earning a spot on the incentive trip, others are getting the signal that these kinds of behaviours are acceptable – perhaps even role-modelling them to try and achieve the same accolades. Instead, consider a behaviour-based component as a qualifier to earn the trip.

Bottom line

Honestly answering these three questions means it may be time to change the eligibility and rules structure around a top performer trip. You can use qualifiers and other thresholds to downsize the number of participants going on the trip, but keep the same budget per person. This leads to more thorough measurement and a better evaluation of ROI on spend per participant. Win-win!

Tricia Mikolai

Former Managing Director

Tricia Mikolai served as Managing Director of BI WORLDWIDE's Oceania region. With almost a decade of experience in behaviour change programs, Tricia was responsible for leading multiple successful initiatives to help Fortune 1000 companies drive performance improvement. She is committed to sharing her knowledge and experience with business leaders to help them drive and sustain business results.

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