Thank you to Selina Sinclair, SITE Foundation’s VP of Research & Content, for today’s post.
Earlier today, we proudly launched SITE Foundation’s latest research project, Leadership inSITEs, at SITE Classic 2022 in Boca Raton, Florida. For our formal launch, I was joined onstage by a panel of incentive travel experts whose own “leader inSITEs” we’ll be sharing in the next few days.
Right now though, I want to focus on the major findings from this global research project, which is the latest chapter in SITE Foundation’s inSITEs series. Leadership inSITEs was preceded by our three Corporate inSITes reports and will be followed in 2023 by Participant inSITEs.
Leadership inSITEs, for me, has been the most interesting piece of research I've been privileged to be part of in my six years with SITE Foundation. In partnership with the SMU Cox School of Business in Texas, we conducted interviews with dozens of C-suite leaders from around the world who are using incentive travel to drive performance and solve other challenges within their businesses.
What is most fascinating to me is seeing the level of maturity and benefits incentive travel users from across the world are experiencing. Particularly in the United States, companies’ use of use of incentive travel is continually evolving and driving leaders to achieve amazing results.
In this era of “Great Resignations,” we saw savvy users of incentive travel accelerate instead toward an era of “Great Recognition,” which is great news for us as an industry. This is also particularly important at a time when the need to recruit and retain top talent is at an all-time high.
Here’s what the research tells us about how leaders are achieving all of this — and more — through incentive travel.
Incentive travel drives sales and rewards the right sales behaviors
In Leadership inSITEs, we saw that regardless of industry or business model, a connection between incentive travel and measurable sales growth holds true. Leaders clearly articulated how they connect the dots between incentive travel and the sales behaviors they look to encourage in their organization, no matter what their company’s sales funnel or customer journey looks like.
Incentive travel enhances compensation and other employee benefits
Time and time again, leaders shared concrete examples of how incentive travel rounds out and supports compensation schemes and company benefit packages in ways other rewards — including cash bonuses and free merchandise — do not.
Incentive travel also allows leaders to strike a balance between hard and soft targets when recognizing employee contributions.
Incentive travel creates unparalleled high-performing networks
Leaders stressed the invaluable opportunity incentive travel gives them and gives employees to build relationships with one another and with other senior leaders. Enabling these connections to happen in a meaningful way is a critical component of incentive program design, and something for destinations and incentive planners globally to take note of.
Incentive travel shapes — and reflects — company cultures
We also saw that benefits, including ones from incentive travel, need to keep pace with employee demands and expectations. This is especially true as younger generations start dominating the workforce.
We also continue learning to embrace technology and virtual event trends. While incentive travel largely focuses on “real world” experiences, an increasingly savvy tech-oriented workforce presents new opportunities, too. We found that leading companies have introduced new tech as part of their incentive programs to realize additional benefits and drive higher desire for program participation.
Incentive travel holds powerful circular and transformative potential
Our final theme from this research examined CSR practices leaders are increasingly incorporating into incentive trips.
Truly transformational travel connect participants in with a rewarding destination in ways that leave employees feeling distinctly valued. We also know, though, that companies will be challenged to ensure CSR activities are genuinely responsive to community needs and offer authentic benefits.
Next steps and where to learn more
Our newly published white paper goes deeper into all of these areas and provides an opportunity for all of us in the incentive travel industry to be more in tune with what companies are trying to achieve and how they are getting there.
Armed with this knowledge, we can position ourselves as an industry that looks beyond the destination or suppliers we represent to show up and engage with our clients as experts who are ready to help companies achieve their organizational goals.
I look forward to continuing the great conversations this research has already sparked, and to leading SITE Foundation’s continued research endeavours on the global incentive travel industry stage.
Find our next Leadership inSITEs presentation at IMEX America 2022. Selina will be joined by SITE CMO Pádraic Gilligan on Wednesday, October 12, from 11:30-noon at the Inspiration Hub on the IMEX show floor.