Demand for incentive travel is surging as organizations strategize to retain talent and rebuild relationships. At the same time, expectations are higher than ever to deliver more memorable experiences while remaining within budget. As a result, planners are challenged to find unique solutions to please both corporate decision-makers and participants.
We’ve identified the top corporate meeting and incentive trends based on recent research from the IRF 2023 Trends Report, Northstar Meetings Group, Incentive Travel Index, and other sources. And we’re happy to report that they align perfectly with the latest cruise industry developments. Read on to see how choosing a cruise can ensure your best-ever incentive program.
5 Keys to a Successful Incentive Travel Program
1. Motivate With Authentic Destination Experiences
Research shows: Successful incentive programs must include memorable experiences for all participants. Today’s attendees demand unique, transformational experiences and one-of-a-kind adventures. They want to explore “hidden gems” and return home inspired.
Cruise Solution: Cruise lines are meeting the demand for unique experiences and in-depth destination exploration. Many itineraries now feature longer days and/or overnights in port. Authentic “Behind the Scenes” and “See it Like a Local” excursions include meeting local artisans, shopping in local markets, and sharing a meal with a local family.
Active adventures ashore include biking, hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. For the ultimate adventure experience, premium expedition ships and yachts are now bringing incentive groups to remote, bucket-list places without sacrificing luxury.
2. Look Beyond ROI to ROE (Return on Engagement)
Research shows: A stronger focus on “soft power” includes increased brand loyalty, relationship-building, and team bonding. According to the latest Incentive Travel Index survey, program success is based on deepening connections, with relationship-building ranking most important.
Cruise Solution: What better venue to encourage collaboration and relationship-building than a cruise ship? The self-contained environment offers several dining and entertainment venues plus a variety of inviting indoor/outdoor spaces for group functions, breakouts, or informal meetups. After a day of exploration ashore, they can bond over shared adventures in one of the ship’s complimentary dining venues.
3. Include More Downtime And Multi-Generational Experiences
Research shows: The one-size-fits-all approach to incentive travel is no longer effective; attendees want more free time and personalized choices. Offer leisure and entertainment options with cross-generational appeal.
Cruise Solution: Cruise ships cater to multiple generations, with choices of meals, activities, excursions, and evening entertainment to please everyone. Golf programs and luxury spa services might appeal to some, while younger participants seek active and local destination experiences – all are available during a cruise event.
4. Prioritize Health & Wellness
Research shows: Wellness components such as fitness activities, spa treatments, and healthy menu options are increasingly important to incentivize participants.
Cruise Solution: There are endless ways to incorporate health and wellness into your meeting at sea or incentive cruise program – because they’re built right in! All the elements are already in place for healthy food choices and leisure pursuits. Cruise lines are taking wellness at sea to the next level with restorative spa experiences, onboard sports and fitness facilities, healthier and plant-based menu options, plus active excursions ashore.
5. Be Mindful Of Sustainability
Research shows: Sustainability is increasingly important for many organizations as incentive recipients have become more aware of the environmental impact of their travel.
Cruise Solution: The cruise industry is also committed to environmental sustainability. Cruise lines are charting the course to net zero carbon cruising by 2050 by implementing new onboard initiatives, investing in advanced environmental technologies, and partnering with cities and ports on sustainable destination management. To learn more about advances in cruise ship sustainability, visit SustainableShips.com.
BONUS: Charter A Cruise Ship For The Ultimate Incentive Reward
For the ultimate incentive and reward program, charter a cruise ship or mega yacht. This is an unforgettable experience your participants cannot duplicate on their own! A complete ship buyout gives you absolute security and freedom. You can customize the entire cruise experience, including meals, entertainment, activities, group events, and itinerary. With only your group onboard the ship, they’ll have the staff’s undivided attention plus more relationship-building opportunities.