10 Incentive Travel Destinations Trending in 2023

By: Mandy Espey

Outdoor adventure, luxury accommodations and superior service are top priorities of corporate incentive travel reward earners. They’re eager for an unforgettable trip that connects them to the local culture in a way they couldn’t experience on their own. 

Their preferences are driving the current incentive travel trends of authentic experiences, undiscovered destinations and corporate responsibility projects. Check out the 10 destinations our buyers recommend for your next corporate incentive travel program.

Trending One-City Global Destinations

1. Punta de Mita, Mexico

Charming Seaside, Five-Star Luxury, Artisan Markets

hammock along beachfront in punta de mita mexicoA mix of relaxing and active experiences make Punta de Mita the perfect option for any traveler.

Punta de Mita is the point where Banderas Bay, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez converge. Originally a region dotted with fishing villages, it has evolved into one of Mexico’s most exclusive enclaves.  

Highlights 

  • Take part in many water activities, including surfing and spear fishing on one of 22 surfing beaches. It’s also a popular spot to watch humpback whale calving
  • Enjoy a taco or craft beer tour in nearby Sayulita, a famous town with a hippy chic vibe, cobblestone streets with chickens running around and a beautiful outdoor artisan market
  • Master the art of “tranquillo”, or “chill time”, as you indulge in abundant amounts of free time

Hotel Recommendation

Conrad Punta de Mita is a lavish beachfront refuge that offers both the rich heritage of the region and the timeless tradition of Mexican hospitality. Since its opening in 2021, it has raked in top accolades among groups, often showing up on ‘best lists.’

Ideal Group Tip 

Mid-size groups full of sun and fun seekers will revel in this experience. It’s best to book this trip in the first half of the year. 

2. Luštica Bay, Montenegro 

Pastry Classes, Coastal Landscapes, Mediterranean-Inspired Culture 

coastal town landscape in lustica bay, MontenegroRich history and pristine waters are part of the allure in Lustica Bay.

Often overlooked by travelers, Montenegro is a great experience for groups that yearn to explore eastern Europe. In recent years, it has emerged as a popular cruise port with much to offer, including coastal landscapes, medieval villages and glacial lakes. 

Highlights 

  • Take a daytrip to explore nearby Kotor and experience its rich history and scenic views of the Adriatic Sea
  • Book a culinary tour or class, where you can learn to make burek, a baked pastry 
  • Relax on Luštica Bay’s pristine blue waters with a leisurely boat ride or kayak outing

Hotel Recommendation 

The Chedi Luštica Bay is a charming spot that brings elegant mediterannean style inside while welcoming guests with a chic, beachy atmosphere. The resort makes it seamless to explore the destination and walk to the nearby bay.

Ideal Group Tip 

A trip to Montenegro is ideal for corporate groups of 200 or less that have visited Europe multiple times. Especially if they’re up for a summer adventure.

Trending Two-City Global Destinations 

1. Hertfordshire & London, England

Michelin-Star Dining, British Pomp, Outdoor Adventure 

aerial view of st albans in hertfordshire ukEnjoy the idyllic English countryside one day and the energy of London the next.

A trip to the United Kingdom holds tremendous appeal for groups looking to ease back into European travel—while maintaining both a leisurely pace and exciting itinerary of city and countryside activities.   

Highlights

  • Explore London in the historic year of King Charles III’s impending coronation, and visit historical sites where the royal family can often be spotted
  • Take advantage of London’s nightlife, with access to numerous Michelin-star restaurants
  • Try a new outdoor activity like clay pigeon shooting, archery, axe throwing or horseback riding in Hertfordshire’s countryside

Hertfordshire Hotel Recommendation 

The Grove has been elegantly restored from its former days as the home of the Earls of Clarendon. Its 300 acres of Hertfordshire countryside make for a rejuvenating stay with a host of on-site outdoor activities. Attendees never have to leave the grounds, unless they want to venture out.

London Hotel Recommendation 

Step out of the London bustle with a sophisticated stay at Rosewood London. It’s been known to host a variety of masterclasses, including those on pie making and gin. The hotel is also an ideal launch pad to explore the nearby Covent Garden and Royal Opera House.

Ideal Group Tip

Mid to large-size incentive groups, and family incentive groups, will enjoy this trip across the pond. It’s a great destination pairing that appeals to a range of attendee interests—especially those that want both a city and countryside experience. 

2. Krakow & Gdansk, Poland

World Heritage Site, Medieval History, Bustling Plazas

outdoor dining venue in krakow polandHistoric landmarks and architecture are abundant in Krakow and Gdansk.

With both a lively stop in Krakow and a slower-paced visit to Gdansk, a trip to Poland holds a nice balance for groups looking to experience eastern Europe to its fullest. Past travelers have compared Gdansk to Amsterdam with its charming Old Town and colorful buildings.

Highlights

  • Explore Krakow’s centuries-old architechure that survived bombing raids in WWII
  • Visit the largest medieval market square in Europe when visiting Gdansk
  • Climb to the top of Gdansk’s Town Hall Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city’s historic landscape

Gdansk Hotel Recommendation 

Sofitel Grand Sopot is a stunning five-star hotel located on the Baltic coastline. There you’ll find a private beach and garden, access to the longest wooden pier in Europe and a spa and wellness center.  

Krakow Hotel Recommendation 

Hotel Saski Krakow is situated just one block away from the Old Town’s main plaza, where attendees can explore numerous top attractions, including the Jewish District, Wawal Royal Castle and The Cloth Hall. 

Ideal Group Tip 

Poland is best chosen for those that have traveled throughout Europe and are looking for the next hot destination. We recommend taking corporate groups of fewer than 100 people.

3. Istanbul & Bodrum, Turkey

Blend of Eastern & Western Cultures, Turkish Baths, World-Class Hotels

cityscape of Istanbul, TurkeyEmbark in an active adventure by day then spend an evening enjoying a rich nightlife.

Few destinations offer more cultural diversity, attractions and history than Turkey. Whether it’s a stroll through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or Bodrum’s off-road safari tours, a trip to Turkey will surely bring attendees experiences they could have only dreamed of.

Highlights

  • Experience a “hammam” or traditional Turkish bath, a common practice in both traditional and modern Turkish culture
  • Tour Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, where visitors can learn about its famous history in person
  • Energize by day while kiteboarding in Bodrum, then unwind in evening with the city’s alluring nightlife

Istanbul Hotel Recommendation

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus is perfectly situated on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait. Guests can experience a retreat from Instanbul’s busy atmosphere with a variety of thoughtfully-crafted on-site dining options. Their spa facility has been noted to offer a signature four- hands massage treatment.

Bodrum Hotel Recommendation

Mandarin Oriental Bodrum is a luxurious seasonal resort that reopens every April. This beachfront wonder offers sweeping panoramic views of the coastline and connects guests to the outdoors with guided excursions, including off-road safaris and mountainside trail tours. It’s the perfect relaxing getaway after a couple action-packed days in Istanbul.

Ideal Group Tip

We recommend Turkey as an incentive travel destination for seasoned travelers who enjoy navigating big cities and love immersing themselves in a new culture. Turkey is best experienced during spring and fall, when tempatures are more mild and tourism has slowed down.


 

Trending U.S.-Based Destinations 

1. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Island Hopping, Local Caribbean Cuisine, Year-Round Festivals

ocean view from st. thomas, u.s. virgin islandsSt. Thomas is the perfect location for beautiful views and a new take on a tropical destination.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are seeing more visitors than other Carribbean Islands and Mexico, thanks to ease of travel for Americans (no passport required). 

Highlights

  • Island hop to the national park on St.John or take a speedboat to the British Virgin Islands  
  • Experience Carnival, which returned in 2022 and takes place from late April to early May 
  • Dive or snorkel among numerous coral reefs

Hotel Recommendation

The Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef is scheduled for a much-anticipated reopening in March 2023 following a $425 million transformation. It includes a private dock, three ocean view pools, five restaurants and a full-service spa. Just shy of 400 rooms and 70,000 square feet of space, the hotel can accomodate larger incentive groups, which are often difficult to place within the Caribbean islands.

Ideal Group Tip

St. Thomas is a promising choice for mid-size groups with travelers that have frequented Mexico in the past and are looking for a something different. The hotel offers a three-meal-a-day food package, so groups can save on dining costs.

2. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Laid-Back Atmosphere, Local Seafood, Day Trips

lighthouse along the coast of cape codCoastal charm and authentic seaside experiences in Cape Cod make it a quintessential summer destination.

It’s the quintessential summer destination, where lighthouses, lobster rolls and sandy beaches await. Cape Cod is a perfect destination for travelers that are eager for new experiences with a unique U.S. coastal charm.

Highlights

  • Experience a day in the life of a local lobster or oyster fisherman, and follow it up with a stop at a local seafood shack
  • Join scientists on a great white shark research excursion, where you can observe their research and protection efforts firsthand
  • Take a day trip to Hyannis to explore the Kennedy Museum, where John F. Kennedy’s legacy comes to life

Hotel Recommendation

Full of coastal charm, Chatham Bars Inn is a home away from home, positioned seaside with historic downtown Chatham just a 5-minute stroll away. Since its original opening in 1914 as a hunting lodge for wealthy Bostonians, the inn has been transformed into a premiere resort with its own launch dock and fleet of private vessels. 

Ideal Group Tip

This spot is perfect for smaller groups looking to make summer plans—and for those that enjoy a relaxed, leisurely trip pace.

3. Asheville, North Carolina

Scenic Drives, Mountain Trails, Wellness

musician playing mandolin outdoors downtown ashevilleLive music and craft beer are the hallmarks of Asheville, North Carolina.

Live music, craft beer and the stunning backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains make up the magic of Asheville. It truly is a hidden southern gem. 

Highlights

  • Learn how to identify, gather and preserve wild mushrooms on a foraging experience
  • Take a guided tour of the city’s Art Deco and neoclassical architecture, or simply spend time downtown in the art district
  • Drive along scenic Blue Ridge Parkway (spanning three national parks)

Hotel Recommendation 

Omni Grove Park Inn, a countryside estate tucked into the mountainside, has been consistently ranked as a top southern hotel. It’s a true retreat, where wellness is front and center. Guests simply can’t miss the 43,000 sq. ft. grotto spa, complete with mineral-based waterfall pools, or the 50-thousand square foot wellness and sports complex. 

Ideal Group Tip

Asheville is a must for mid-size groups looking for adventure and nights out on the town. We recommend visting during the summer to enjoy hiking the nearby mountain trails in ideal weather conditions or in the fall when the changing foliage offers spectacular views. 

4. Napa, California

Railcar Excursions, Wine Tastings, Intimate Settings 

vineyard in napa valleyNapa is the perfect location for those seeking a peaceful countryside experience.

Napa is a longstanding incentive trip destination. However, since the 2020 forest fires and the recontructions of its resort towns, Napa is making a strong comeback to entice travelers (and wine enthusiasts) back to its peaceful countryside.

Highlights 

  • Take a tour on the Napa Valley Wine Train, a luxury three-hour railcar journey that highlights the beauty of the valley
  • Hop on a hot air balloon ride—or keep your feet on the ground while visiting one of 400 wineries 
  • Gather a small group for a leisurely bike ride through the countryside, pointing out vineyards along the way

Hotel Recommendation 

Four Seasons Resort and Residence Napa Valley is a destination all its own. It’s the only resort situated on an active winery within the entire region. The resort also boasts a bocce ball court, nail salon and outdoor fire pits for nightime lounging. With only 85 guestrooms, it feels more private than typical five-star accommodations.

Ideal Group Tip

We recommend Napa as a late spring to mid-fall excursion for high-end, small incentive groups or board retreats composed of guests who enjoy sticking together at their destination. 

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Fine Arts, Indigenous Cultures, Equestrian Adventures

cattle roping lessonsSanta Fe offers the perfect mix of active options and relaxing experiences.

The arts and outdoors converge in the “Creative City,” as named by UNESCO. Sante Fe is rich in its old-world architechure, stunning desert landscape and influence from surrounding American Indian, Latin American and western cultures.

Highlights 

  • Take an equine roping lesson with local guides
  • Fly fish for wild trout or hike the Rio Grande with a llama
  • Book a guided tour on Pueblo art or take a ceramics class

Hotel Recommendation 

Bishop’s Lodge is a highly rated hotel for a reason. Nestled in Santa Fe’s National Forest, and just a 10-minute drive from downtown, it offers a variety of unique amenities—from private horse stables and a trout stream to an on-site art studio. 

Ideal Group Tip

Small incentive groups that like to go off the beaten path will appreciate the Santa Fe’s mix of history and culture. The destination is best experienced late spring to early fall for optimal weather conditions.


 

When narrowing down destination options, our expert buyers can help spot pitfalls and recommend ways to elevate the experience, like they did for this incentive trip to Puglia, Italy.

Mandy Espey
Mandy Espey

Mandy joined ITA Group in 2005, serving in operations before transitioning to the purchasing team as a Buyer and Supervisor. In her current role as Lead Buyer, Mandy leads the internal presale process for financial and insurance brands, conceptualizing events, building program budgets, negotiating supplier partner contracts, and maintaining client and supplier relationships. She works closely with internal sales and operations teams to bring strategic recommendations to each program. Mandy enjoys traveling, attending concerts, cheering on her beloved Iowa Hawkeyes and Kansas City Chiefs, and spending time with family and friends, especially her two sons.