by Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP | December 01, 2017
The travel incentive industry is remaking itself by responding to demands for more experiential and engaging travel events. Designing more participatory and adventurous activities requires creativity and hard work to align with corporate business objectives. And attendees are also driving the need for unique activities that demonstrate corporate social responsibility. Take time to consider the following Top 10 Ideas for Engaging Travel Incentives.

1. Localization Opportunities. Pairing up attendees and their guests with local hosts at the destination provides exposure to local customs and practices. Food is always a great way to indulge in authentic local culture. Capping off with a cultural festival with performers, dance, and music is a full sensory experience.

2. Immersive Destination. You can also have a full cultural immersion to take in the sights and sensations by going to a foreign-speaking country. Go behind the scenes of businesses or local venues to understand what goes on. And perhaps it can be arranged to end each day eating with local residents in their homes.

3. Community Impact. Companies strive to demonstrate corporate social responsibility through worldwide community service projects. Employees build stronger friendships and bond together for a common purpose and the good of a local charitable need or humanitarian cause. Focus on making a contribution.

4. Popular Locations. According to Incentive, Southern Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas and big cities like New York and Los Angeles are the most popular incentive destinations this year. Internationally, Canada, Mexico, Belize, and Colombia join up with London and Paris, along with Croatia, Iceland, Portugal and Greece.

5. Bucket List. Popularized by the 2007 Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie Bucket List, a bucket list is typically a wish list of to-dos before a person dies. Besides unique location possibilities consider experiences and interactions with celebrities or subject matter experts that appeal to a majority of employees.

6. Experiential Combo. Many incentive meeting vendors recognize the need to substantiate expenses by combining events with a purpose along with a business-meeting component. Ensure the business meeting is exceptional with the latest company news, along with a celebratory flair and star treatment.

7. Once-in-a-Lifetime. Creating an experience the individual could not do on their own is like making a wish come true. The key to reaping the benefits of such an experience is creating a special memory treasure chest of the event, through pictures, audio recordings, themed music, tangible gifts, and video recordings.

8. Personalization Exploration. With such diverse participants it's hard to personalize experiences to all individual nuances and tastes. Why not survey your employees and catalog the discoveries people want to explore like skydiving, deep sea diving, parasailing, fly-fishing, fashion design or cooking, etc.

9. Unique Learning. Not all destination experiences have to be about fun and adventure. Attending a customized conference with one-on-one opportunities with leaders and professors in your field would be exceptional. Others may want an immersive language learning opportunity and boarding with a local family.

10. Specialty Foods. Destinations indulging in cooking skills and other beverage and culinary experiences are common. Vineyard and winery tours are standard in Europe and North America. Less mainstream culinary destinations to take pleasure in now include places like India, China, Vietnam, Turkey, and Mexico.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of "Giving the Real Recognition Way." The Vistance Institute chief learning officer at Rideau Inc., Saunderson provides consulting, learning, and thought leadership services focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at RoySaunderson@Rideau.com and followed on Twitter (@RoySaunderson) and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.