Balance, sincerity, and flexibility: What Gen Z expects from incentive travel

SITE partnered with Cvent to deliver a mid-April webinar that explored fresh data on what Gen Z looks for and expects from events, including incentive travel rewards.

With Gen Z predicted to make up 27 percent of the workforce in OECD countries by 2025, it’s critical for incentive professionals to understand what this generation expects from their incentive travel programs — from the moment the qualification period begins, up through what Gen Z earners expect to experience onsite.

Greater generational emphasis on work-life balance

Cvent presenters Carisa Bartelt and Denise Sutter began their session by stressing the value Gen Z (defined by the speakers as anyone born from 1996-97 on) places on work-life balance.

This is a generation that does not have the same mentality as past generations when it comes to working overtime or banking PTO, both women explained. This is prompting employers to get creative with how they structure workplaces, leaning on benefits like a four-day work week or the ability to work from anywhere to attract young talent to their teams.

For companies using incentive travel to motivate Gen Z professionals, it makes sense to tout the benefits of an incentive trip (time off to relax, that rewards employees for the time they spent in the office) but also means new pressures to get creative with qualifying criteria.

If this is a generation that is more reluctant to put in extra hours purely to meet highly ambitious goals, qualification schema and models used with generations past may not motivate this cohort if they don’t understand or inherently value trying to meet an overly high bar. 

Sincere, authentic touches are a must

Carisa and Denise highlighted during the webinar how Gen Z merge individual values into their professional identities, citing a study that found 44 percent of Gen Z employees have rejected an assignment due to ethical concerns.

This is a generation that sees themselves as more accepting and open-minded, the speakers said. They’ve been surrounded by loud, active social movements for most of their lives, and feel an innate responsibility to “do something.”

These are behaviors strategic incentive travel professionals will find ways to reward and motivate, and is also a preference planners can bake into the onsite program design. Adding CSR or volunteer opportunities are great ways to channel Gen Z’s passion to make a difference.

Flexibility throughout

A final theme permeating the webinar discussion was the need for flexibility when marketing, communicating, and working with Gen Z.

Whether it’s adapting how you reach out — like swapping text messages or DMs for “old-fashioned” phone calls — or appreciating the “side hustle” nature Gen Z often brings to their work, this is another important generational trait to keep in mind.

For incentive organizers, Carisa and Denise said, this Gen Z-driven expectation for flexibility means meeting participants where they’re at when marketing your incentive program (with a pro tip to bring Gen Z team members into the content creation process and let them act as natural influencers or spokespeople to amplify your message further); finding ways to reward behaviors that promote, or at least allow for, flexible working arrangements; and giving plenty of free time on programs so Gen Z winners can customize itineraries to deliver experiences that truly suit them and what they want.

SITE members can watch the full webinar replay via SITE’s LearnHub

Written by

SITE Staff


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