Changing demographics, lingering effects of the pandemic and the new paradigm of remote work are all contributing factors to the new look of incentive travel agendas. Both Amy Black, CMP, director, product development and Joanne Keating, CITP, customer experience and insights manager, work at Creative Group, based in Toronto. Black works with clients on their goals for their incentive program design, while Keating delivers the program at the destination. Both have seen changes in program agendas.
Focus on Wellness
Accommodating time changes in a program is a thoughtful design note that ties into health and wellness. “Post pandemic, we’re thinking of wellness so much differently,” says Black. “It’s not just yoga on the beach anymore, wellness is threaded through every activity we do. It starts on arrival with room amenities such as fresh fruit and rejuvenating teas. We now offer mocktails for people who don’t want to drink on their first night and offer choices that promote a good night’s sleep. We want our participants to feel happy and healthy.” Keating adds, “we also start our program activities later, around 10 a.m., to allow people to adjust to the time zone.”
It’s loud and clear in pre- and post-program surveys that not every minute of every day needs to be planned. “Where budget allows, we give attendees a cash allowance to do whatever they want on a certain day,” says Black. “If a program constantly has an agenda for everything, you are not creating the right experience. Today’s participants want togetherness as a group, but also appreciate having time on their own to explore the destination.”
Giving Back Thoughtfully
Keating notes that corporate social responsibility (CSR) events are being put in earlier on the agenda. “It’s important for the CSR activity to align with company goals, making sure there is a meaningful purpose behind it. Having it earlier in the program allows everyone to come together. Sometimes people don’t have the opportunity to meet the entire group, so this allows them to feel good, donate their time and give back to the community, leaving that positive impression.”
Another new impact both planners are seeing are increased numbers of participants who now add on vacation days at the end of their program to continue exploring on their own. “Fifty to 60% of our participants are extending their trip, especially in Europe,” says Keating. “It’s a big trend we’re seeing this year. People are taking the extra time to spend with their significant others and explore on their own.”