Why your incentive trip needs novelty

By: Elly Driscoll

What you need to know

  • Incorporating novelty into incentive travel event design creates more memorable experiences.
  • Research shows Gen Z values novelty above all other event aspects.
  • Even traditional or core elements of corporate events can be infused with novelty.


incentive travel attendee feeding elephant as novelty event experience

Want your event to live rent-free in the minds of attendees? Incorporate novelty into event design.

More than a buzzword, novelty is an event strategy rooted in science. Psychological studies show novelty brings a rush of dopamine (a feel-good chemical) to our brains. It captures attendees’ attention and makes events more memorable. New and unexpected experiences are noteworthy in the moment and they’re easier to recall long-term, too. 

Think about a time that shook up your normal routine and left a smile on your face all day. Even the memory makes you grin, right? Events that surprise and delight stand out. The good vibes they create last. That’s what you want your incentive trip to do.  

It’s human nature to enjoy novelty, and a growing segment of the workforce is coming to expect it. Fresh data suggests Gen Z values novelty alongside customization as critical components for curated event experiences. Almost two-thirds (65%) of Gen Z eventgoers said 'novelty' was the most important part of their event experience.

download our ebook on harnessing the emotional connection of event experiences

Incorporating novelty into incentive travel

Now that you know a bit of the science behind novelty, let’s cover how to put the concept into practice to give attendees what they crave.

Novelty is …

  • A private viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
  • Exclusive access to the Doge’s Ball, the most lavish costume party event of the Venetian Carnival.
  • Hand-feeding elephants at a Thailand sanctuary after bonding with teammates at an immersive give-back activity.
  • A champagne toast on the Great Wall of China. Talk about bucket list worthy!

Yes, we’ve really created all of these ‘never in my wildest dreams’ moments for our attendees. (And so many more!)

Related: Read how exploring the Red City and the surrounding desert valley inspired unforgettable moments for Conga Aspire attendees in Morocco.

collage of novelty event experiences

Using novelty in incentive travel destination selection 

Novelty can also be important in the destination selection phase. Hawaii is postcard-perfect but it’s also a pretty conventional choice. After a client suggested the Big Island as a high-value, memorable destination, we turned to data. Polling their audience proved they were up for experiencing a place with a different kind of wow factor: Iceland!

Attendees were on top of the world (literally and figuratively) during an immersive incentive travel journey that invited them to:

  • Soak up Blue Lagoon Iceland, where the powers of geothermal seawater create transformational spa sessions.
  • Embark on a whale-watching tour in waters where humpbacks breach and marine life thrives.
  • Feast at a “fire and ice” themed Viking dinner.

It’s fair to assume the trip sent dopamine levels skyrocketing for this attendee who shared feedback:

“I don't think the bar can go any higher! All aspects of this trip and every level of detail was so well thought out with a flawless execution! Beyond thankful to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Blending novelty and tradition in event design

Gen Z may demand novelty, but what about everyone else? After all, most of today’s incentive trip attendees were born before 1997. Here’s some good news: novelty doesn’t just light up Gen Z's brains. Novel experiences are important for keeping all our brains healthy. (And it’s more fun than a kale salad.)

According to neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman, “The most important thing that you can do for your brain is always put it in novel situations, give it novel challenges.”

So, how can we infuse novelty if attendees love returning to the same Hawaiian resort year after year?

Imagine an awards dinner outside on the resort lawn. It’s dusk, and the smell of gardenias is in the air. Per tradition, attendees enjoy fire dancers while receiving accolades in front of their peers. Then, the CEO breaks the script, asking attendees to follow him to the beach to conclude the dinner.

Multi-platinum musical artist Marshmello is DJing a private dance party set up just for them. With music, the menu, and aromas, all senses are engaged. The mood is as electric as the synth beats surge through the crowd. A traditional farewell dinner transforms into a night they’ll never forget.

event attendees dancing to Marshmellow at novelty event experience

By building an emotional connection, your brand becomes part of the attendee’s life story. An event transforms attendees into fully engaged ambassadors. A legendary event also gains a second life when others experience it through stories and social posts. The return for a brand is exponential.

Novelty is just one of the key influences that invigorate attendees. Download our ebook to learn more about how brain science can inspire ideas for your next immersive event.

download our ebook on harnessing the power of event experiences
Elly Driscoll
Elly Driscoll

A Washington state native, Elly’s proximity to tech conferences drew her into the events industry. She’s planned and managed events of all sizes, from small meetings to annual conferences with 5,000+ attendees. Elly brings that front-line expertise and leadership to her role as Event Solutions Advisor. And her expertise doesn’t stop there. She’s a pro at creating the right team structure, recommending registration technology and onboarding new clients. Thankfully, she still has energy to plan family trips to Italy with her husband and two daughters.