by Brian Martenis | October 05, 2011
Personally, I would not be able to work in a profession that I did not thoroughly enjoy and look forward to every day, and I would not be able to do a job that I did not believe in. I thus believe that incentive travel is my calling. By definition, it is travel used to motivate and modify behavior. In my opinion, no motivator is as effective and lasts as long as incentive travel, and it should be part of every business strategy.

1. As a motivator, cash or a new flat-screen TV are wonderful as long as the cash holds out and the TV set still works. Assuming an unexpected bill does not suddenly appear and the cash is soon forgotten, and the TV (like so many appliances) does not live up to expectations, they are outstanding. The promise of a trip to Monte Carlo or any glamorous destination that the average person can only dream of going is an aphrodisiac like no other.

2. The introduction of an incentive travel program is, literally, the realization of a dream. Who does not like to daydream about the extraordinary? A trip to the Caribbean to one individual will be about sun and water sports, but to another, it will be about swaying palms and romance, and to yet another, it will be about culture and interesting cuisine. No other award can mean something different to everyone.

3. The experience of skiing the Alps in Switzerland, sailing Sydney Harbor in Australia, or climbing Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica are real “pinch me” moments that few would ever forget, and incentive travel makes it happen!

4. The memory of incentive travel is truly priceless. I personally have been a “dream designer” for about 33 years. I cannot tell you how many people have held me personally responsible for the best times of their lives. Even a Rolls Royce becomes dated and worn. Memories live on in the heart forever and seem to improve with age.

5. For the company responsible for the program, there is absolutely no better way to develop more positive and lasting relationships with customers or employees. The trip must be hosted, however, and the more hands-on and involved, the better. Seeing to participants have a good time, be happy, and comfortable is key. The more you give that, the more you get in return.

6. For the participants, the gratitude felt is without peer. The average person will never samba atop Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro or explore Red Square in Moscow. The people responsible for such moments will always be remembered. They provided magic in their lives and gave them something of unequaled value.

7. Incentive travel is truly a universal gift. Everyone dreams of travel. Everyone has a yearning to experience something new, to sample the exotic and unknown. Incentive travel can be designed specifically for special interest groups, singles, women, men, sports enthusiasts, etc. With some thought in designing and planning, this once-in-a-lifetime motivator will feel like it was tailor-made for the recipients.

8. Incentive travel really is priceless. There are many list prices out there. People are not aware of the fact that if one is flexible, an incentive group can be put together for a very reasonable sum. In domestic as well as international travel, bargains abound if you look for them. The perceived value is excellent.

9. Much of what is important in an incentive travel program actually has no cost at all. It is foolish to spend a lot of money on the first evening of an international program when most people really want to go to bed. In a program, the last two days are what will be remembered most. Just like writing a good play, save it for the last act and always remember the importance of memory. What you leave behind in people’s minds is very important.

10. The most important aspect is service and your presence during the program—your personal participation. Your care is critical If someone is taken ill or has an accident, if her guest room is unacceptable, or if he has special needs; a well-run incentive travel program takes care of this. In today’s volatile world, travel safety is such an important factor. Your assurance and confidence in handling everything astutely will provide comfort beyond measure and will be most appreciated.

The Bottom Line
No other motivator delivers the overall satisfaction of a well-planned and well-run incentive travel program. Additionally, the relationships developed between the people responsible and those participating are strong and lasting. Making dreams happen for people is what I do. I give them a piece of myself, my creativity, my soul. They respond in the most exquisite of ways. I cannot imagine doing anything else. What I get back, true satisfaction, is indescribable.

I welcome any comments or questions regarding incentive travel. Contact me at at anytime.

Brian Martenis is managing director of Incentive Worldwide Travel in Philadelphia,,
established in 2009. For 31 years prior to that, Brian served as the incentive travel planner for several large American corporations. Always interested in feedback, he welcomes your comments at