Get this: 93% of top-performing companies’ executives believe that non-cash incentives grant their business a competitive advantage.

That’s right!

Almost every business leader of any company in the top 20% of their vertical has said they depend on non-cash incentives to out-win their competitors. If your business is not in the top 20%, you should be thinking of how you can launch and sustain an effective incentive travel program. And if you are already a top-performing business, you should be asking yourself how can you improve.

The rewards are increased production from your staff, and a lower attrition rate – Keep your top performers humming, and attract talent from your competitors!

What is Incentive Travel?

Incentive Trip Cabo 2

Incentive travel, also known as an incentive trip, or incentive trip program, is one of the most popular non-cash awards that’s used to motivate sales staff, partners, and even customers to greatly increase sales, keep their best reps from leaving, and motivate the remaining sales staff to pick it up.

Every company names their incentive travel program differently, but common names you have likely heard are:

  • President’s Club
  • Winner’s Circle
  • Achiever’s Club

This is a long-term incentive, with the reward being based on annual goals. For most organizations, it means achieving production that is significantly higher than what’s expected (or average). For sales, it could mean that your representatives have to achieve 115 or 120% of their annual quota before qualifying for the trip.

It is the pinnacle of non-cash based incentives that your company will likely offer, and it involves a getaway trip lasting more than 3 days where (almost) everything is funded by the company.

The trip is often hailed as the ultimate reward experience for your top performers within any department; although Sales is the most common department leveraging any incentives. By requiring any employees to significantly surpass their quota to qualify, it has a positive ROI.


What’s Included?

Most incentive trips are fully funded by the company – End to end. This includes:

Pedregal Resort

You get the idea: incentive travel programs are an enormous amount of work to plan and execute, many times beginning over a year in advance of the trip…but the awards are enormous.

Why Host an Incentive Travel Program?

The Incentive Research Fund (IRF), through extensive study, has found that non-cash rewards significantly increase production, lower attrition rates, and build a company culture.

When looking specifically at non-cash incentives methods, incentive travel stands out as the most lucrative option:

Tangible non-cash rewards, on the other hand, can linger in in a reward earner’s memory for years. Experiential travel rewards, for example, create lasting memories and positive associations with the organization that provided the reward (Jeffrey, 2017)

Expected ROI

A professionally planned and executed incentive trip has an almost 20% increase in productivity in the short term (<6-month mark), creating an ROI of 112%!!

In the long term, the IRF has proven that productivity increases by 44-48% in the long term (> 6-month mark). Further pointing to incentive travel as the most lucrative form of rewards.

Every year C-levels huddle together to talk about how they can improve sales by 3, 5, or possibly even 10%. If you aren’t already leveraging incentive travel, it can be one of the most straightforward ways to hit your annual goals, and then some.


Lower Attrition Rate

If you haven’t seen our master class video on the value of internal events, attrition rates are lowered by over 30% with a professionally planned travel program.

The average cost to replace an employee is 150% of their first year’s salary and is one of the most expensive costs for any organization: losing tenured top performers. A 30+% decrease in attrition is huge!


Build a Company Culture

Implementing an annual incentive trip is one of the top events you can leverage to build a company culture!

Don’t let your company be known for the cubicles, the clock-in, clock-out 9-5 hustle, and year-end plastic trophies – There are plenty of others that already have that reputation locked up, and it’s not a label that employees are proud of.

An incentive trip gives your employees an annual goal to strive for, creating teamwork and dedication from January through December. Additionally, it creates memories that extend beyond the 4 walls of your business, affecting your employees on a personal level.

fireworks at company event


Types of Incentive Trips

While incentive travel programs are usually targeted towards your sales teams, companies can offer the incentive to the top individuals in other departments to create healthy motivation all over your company.

Additionally, businesses see amazing results from a standalone trip for their channel partners (resellers)! The channel usually holds a greater potential to increase your revenue than your own sales team, many times over!

This is why affiliate programs and other incentives are so popular. If you can motivate your channel to push your product over your competitors’, your sales will skyrocket.

Sales Programs

Over 50% of companies that use non-cash incentives use a sales incentive travel program to boost drive revenue. Organizations will usually announce their destination and resort at the tail-end of their sales kickoff, and set forth the requirements.

This caps off your rally event with a powerful and motivational sales goal that your sales team will strive for over the next 12 months.


Channel Programs

Channel incentive travel programs are experiences provided by a manufacturer to a retailer for meeting their predefined goals. While your sales staff is your in-house source of income, your business might also depend on a large source revenue from channel sources.

Channel partners often have multiple products or services in their portfolio, even your competitors’; offering non-cash based incentives are an amazing way to ‘move the needle’ in your favor.


Why Incentive Travel Works

best incentive travel destinations

A professionally executed program alters human behavior. As we all know, motivation is a powerful thing. It can completely change our perspective on why something is important, and how bad we want it.

The benefits of an incentive travel program are numerous, and affect behavior through several angles:


Recognition & Trophy Value

As a sales guy, making the club is the ultimate goal. Everyone’s quotas and associated ‘earnings packages’ usually vary, hitting the qualifying mark for President’s club is universal for all sales staff (ex. 115% of quota).

This creates a competitive nature that reps actively discuss, as well as management. It doesn’t matter what level you are as a sales rep, on the lead generation team, inside sales, field sales, or management.

Because of this, almost every salesperson trying to hit the qualifying mark for their incentive trip thinks of the actual status first, and the money comes after.



Cash evaporates quickly, but trips create memories. Those memories get tied to your business creating loyalty, motivation, and appreciation.

This is a large reason why top earners tend to stick around longer at companies that provide incentive programs.


event site selection

Where Many Programs Could Improve

Not all incentive travel programs get raving reviews from your attendees. If you’ve been apart of even just a couple, you are aware that top-performers can be hard to please.

This is one of the few reasons why an incentive trip is one of your most difficult trips to plan all year, even though it’s certainly not the largest. There are high expectations – Here are 2 areas where we see the biggest downfalls:


Incorporating too many work functions

Where we see the most negative feedback from your attendees is the number of work programs that are inserted into a trip. Companies need to remember that while you absolutely should incorporate key company get-togethers, they should not involve actual work, and be extremely limited.


Not choosing the right destination

Four Seasons Nevis

This can mean a couple of things but usually:

A) The company chose a destination that’s not easy to travel to for most participants (multiple stops and long travel days required), or

B) The destination isn’t exotic. The entire goal of an incentive travel program is to motivate your staff to perform better than they ever have. You can’t choose a common destination (even if it’s international) and expect it to have the same revenue-boosting effects as if you had chosen Iceland or Argentina!

Having said that, domestic incentive trips still produce a positive ROI because of the overall expense of your company is lower.


The Wrap

If your company is not already in the top 20% of your business vertical, incentive travel should be one of the first items your sales leadership discusses for their annual goal-setting meetings.

A professionally planned trip produces 112% ROI on average, and an increase in almost 20% of productivity.


Don’t be the company that has the mindset of, ‘We can’t afford to have a president’s club this year’. Based on study findings, your business should be asking, ‘How can we afford not to have an incentive travel program this year?’

If you are looking for help with your program, look no further! Click here to get a call scheduled with our team to discuss further.

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