INSPIRATION

Rethinking incentive travel for remote and hybrid workers

Today’s post is by Anh Nguyen, CMP, the Head of Customer Success at twine. Anh showcased her event expertise on an EventMB panel earlier this year, where her insights stood out as ones that were important to share with the SITE community.

If you change how people work, you’re going to change how people travel and meet.

While the realities of increasingly remote and distributed teams still feel new to many of us, it’s also dawning on leaders and organizations that these trends aren’t going anywhere — making it a perfect time for incentive professionals to dive into the opportunities these trends are creating.  

Longer-term experiences as a new form of incentive travel

We’re starting to see destinations market themselves to remote workers. Destinations need to pay attention to this trend, of course, but so, too, do incentive travel professionals.

Our remote team consists of a number of young 20–30 year olds who I call complete digital nomads — team members who frequently call in from different destinations. This new landscape of work allows traditional “nomads,” or those who would typically work in more transient jobs, to hold down permanent, more traditional roles that can now be done from anywhere. What if we, as an all-remote organization, relocated our top performers once or twice per year to a destination of their choice and funded a longer-term stay in their chosen destination?

This seems like a potentially compelling new form of incentive travel, albeit one that’s different than the traditional all-expense weeks in the Caribbean or fancy cruise ship voyages. However, this type of incentive might be just as compelling — or even more so — for the digital nomads now populating our teams.

Based on those I’m working alongside, the generations entering the workforce now seemingly care less about prestige and much more about fulfilment, seeing the world, and contributing to something meaningful while they do it. 

If we know our employees are looking for a sense of adventure and fulfilment and can still produce top-notch work while connecting in deeper with a destination, then by all means, let’s provide incentive experiences that do exactly that!

Flexing incentive know-how as a valued HR partner

We’re starting to see the event and HR worlds converge, especially since a significant part of managing remote workers involves creating meaningful workplace experiences and connection, both virtually and in-person.

HR and leadership teams are starting to see effects of remote and hybrid teams on retention, employee connections, and overall sense of belonging. This has heightened the need for companies to prioritize the skills and talents of professionals like us who design amazing experiences that create intentional connections.

Successfully designing these moments is going to play a huge role in retention, which has become a C-level problem. It also gives incentive travel professionals a true seat around a company’s strategic table — a seat some of us have long been calling for!

Getting down and “blurry”  

Event professionals can also now creatively infuse incentive elements in places and in ways we might not have tried before, as the lines between travel, leisure, and work become increasingly blurry.

Take company offsites. Organizations with growing hybrid and remote teams are now devoting more time and budget to bespoke, in-person events once a year or once a quarter to bring their teams together. This is an opportunity ripe with potential to add in well-crafted incentive elements.

For example, tacking on a bonus day or two to an offsite meeting and using this “bonus” time to provide the kinds of rewards and personal touches that have long been hallmarks of incentive travel is a compelling practice that seems well worth exploring.

For twine’s latest in-person off-site, we promoted the opportunity to meet and connect in-person as an incentive in and of itself. We purposely selected an incentive-friendly destination, connected people during the offsite who don’t normally interact otherwise through social events to help strengthen company ties, and tapped into other critical incentive planning skills like experience design and empathy mapping to deliver a meaningful motivational experience.  

In the end, it’s the employee experience you create that connects staff to your company’s mission and brand. Applying the expertise SITE members already have and aligning that expertise with the newly emerging needs of a remote workforce offers huge potential, and will shape exciting new pathways for the future of incentive travel.

Written by

SITE Staff

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