What Works Now

by Sandra Eagle, Ignite Magazine

The longing has never left as groups tentatively explore safe havens for incentive travel

Instead of a winter of discontent, incentive travel planners have some joy to look forward to as travel bans around the world start to lift and the intrepid can once again consider venturing to an airport.

While planners cancelled planned incentive trips and turned to virtual alternatives in 2020 and 2021, the outlook for 2022 sees the return of incentives, although most are planning for domestic travel.

Planners turned quickly to virtual alternatives to celebrate the people who had lost out on cancelled incentive trips. A senior events manager at a large Canadian financial institution in Toronto used a variety of events to celebrate winners, including a week of celebration with celebrity speakers; sending Uber lunch vouchers so winners could have smaller group lunches with senior executives; and the opportunity to virtually shop for a custom gift.



Event Alternatives and their Impact on Culture, a study conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation in February 2021, found that planners “are eager to reclaim the benefits of incentive travel. These include the excitement and competition that reward travel generates during the qualifying period, the networking and relationship-building during the trip or event, and the storytelling afterward.”

Pearleen Mofford, CIS, is sales director at Fox Harb’r Resort, based in Nova Scotia, and the 2021 president of SITE Canada (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence). She is confident heading into 2022. Ignite caught up with her at the Calgary airport, coming from Global Incentive Summit hosted by Northstar Meetings Group. She was asked to talk on behalf of SITE Canada to over 110 planners and suppliers who met in Banff for a combination of meetings and travel experiences in the region.

“The good news is that we are on the road to recovery,” says Mofford. “Hybrid is starting to decline, and even though some vertical industries like finance and insurance are a little more conservative, the good news is that there are commitments in place for 2022 and 2023.”

Mofford notes there was a lot of discussion within the group about safety protocols for future incentive travel. These five things topped the list:

  • Safe on-site protocols—testing specifically.
  • Corporate travel policies: whether or not some vertical industries can travel.
  • Advanced vaccine certificates and having all the paperwork in place before travel.
  • Will companies provide travel testing costs or will participants have to pay?
  • Safe on-site testing for return flight to own country.

Mofford notes there has been a steady stream of RFPs for domestic groups and even some international site inspections for Fox Harb’r Resort. She even had some domestic groups this summer. “A new thing I’m seeing is that some RFPs are splitting their groups into two waves, over an eight-day period. I’m sure it’s risk mitigation— reducing group size reduces some risk.” For Mofford, domestic groups are in the 50 to 100 people range.

“I just think the optimism is there— recovery is coming and we have things to look forward to again.”

Article originally published by Ignite Magazine | Winter Issue 2021. To read more inspiration and insight from Ignite, visit

Written by

SITE Staff


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