The tantalizing promise of a spectacular trip motivates potential winners to exceed expectations and earn a novel experience they could never have on their own. Choosing the right destination experience can make or break an incentive travel program. Our expert buyers have researched some of the most amazing—and often overlooked—destinations to illustrate just what an inspiring incentive trip can look like. Our first stop: Puglia, Italy.
Build Anticipation for an Incentive Trip to Puglia
Imagine you’re a sales rep and you’ve been working hard toward your goals all year—you’re even close to breaking some personal records. You receive a custom mailer in a linen envelope, secured with a branded wax seal. The luxurious details clue you in that this is something special. Something exclusive. Inside is a flyer describing the quaint Italian region of Puglia. It’s a place you’ve never heard of before, but you can tell by the images that it’s got a beautiful, authentic charm. You have a few months left to hit the goal—you can make this happen.
When designing an impressive incentive travel program, select destinations that are unknown to even the most well-traveled winners. The region of Puglia is a mostly undiscovered gem in southern Italy. Because cities like Venice and Florence are so popular, potential trip winners might feel less inspired by trip experiences they can arrange on their own. Not so with Puglia. It’s a place even local Italians can miss if they aren’t looking.
We Asked Our Buyers: Why Choose Puglia Over Other Destinations?
“Puglia is a mostly undiscovered part of Italy with a great mix of beach, historic villages and wineries. The accommodations are unique as well—many of the hotels are converted former farmhouses, so it’s all very authentic. For large groups, we recommend Borgo Egnazia. It’s a bigger resort, but it has a village-style setup, so it still feels intimate. Depending on the group, we also suggest combining a trip to Puglia with a few days in Rome; the logistics can be tough but it pays off when planned correctly.”
Craft a Puglia Experience Unlike Other Incentive Travel Programs
After the long flight, you approach the hotel to find old-world charm everywhere, and you’re warmly greeted by top executives. Everywhere you turn, there are more top-of-the-line touches: hedges trimmed into the shape of the event logo at the hotel gates, staff greeting you by name, embroidered pillowcases in your room with program branding. As you make your way to the hospitality lounge, you’re handed a personalized itinerary of activities designed just for you (an itinerary that teases some surprises sprinkled throughout the next few days). You order the special cocktail created just for the program and begin mingling with fellow attendees. It’s been a long day of traveling, but now you get to relax and recharge before the adventure that awaits you.
Highlight what makes Puglia unique with immersive experiences that are unlike anything attendees have seen before. It’s the “nowhere else” moments that make the destination come to life and make attendees feel recognized (as well as motivated to become repeat incentive trip winners).
Consider these ways to custom-craft experiences in Puglia:
- Buy out one of the converted-farmhouse hotels for a truly exclusive feeling
- Create one-of-a-kind shopping experiences, complete with old-fashioned market stalls and local artisans selling their wares
- Include nighttime spectaculars, themed around area festivals to immerse attendees in local culture
- Organize a scavenger hunt with clues at each activity leading attendees to different villages
- Have a local chef give a live pasta-making demonstration at a favorite restaurant
- Provide a personal shopper to hand select items for attendees at top boutiques
We Asked Our Buyers: How Would You Elevate the Puglia Experience?
“One of the great things about Puglia is how everything feels authentic and down to earth—nothing is overdone or forced. For example, attendees can go to a winery and meet the family that owns it. Owners will even prepare a traditional meal followed by wine tasting for attendees. Or they can tour beautiful hillside villages and visit an olive farm that dates to Roman times. Visitors get to be up close and personal with the real people who live in Puglia and will feel like one of the family. Those small, authentic details are unforgettable.”
Use the Puglia Trip to Inspire Future Incentive Travel Winners
It’s the last day of the incentive trip, and you reluctantly leave the charming Puglia region behind. As you’re about to leave, you receive one last parting gift—a bottle of wine from one of the wineries you visited. It includes a note from the family member you met, thanking you for visiting their home, wishing you a safe journey and saying they look forward to seeing you again in the future. You smile as you pack it into your luggage, already thinking how you’re going to sell even more to earn next year’s trip—especially since your organization keeps raising the bar like this.
Your top performers will always remember how you left them feeling at the end of the trip. It’s one last moment of joy before heading back to reality. Use the farewell as an opportunity to remind attendees just how magical their time was in undiscovered Puglia. Emphasize the relationships they built on the trip by bringing back a few of the local guides, chefs and storytellers that attendees bonded with during their incentive trip so they can revisit trip highlights and say goodbye to their new friends.
After setting the bar this high, it’s important to gain insights that can be used for future incentive travel programs. Send out post-trip surveys that delve into which elements were successful and which would motivate attendees to become repeat winners.
We Asked Our Buyers: Any Pitfalls to Avoid When Planning a Puglia Trip?
“There’s an hour transfer to the Bari city airport, and many of the return home transfers are very early (think 4 a.m.). You also must transfer flights in Rome to switch from regional to international airports. If you’re flying, it can be a pain. That’s one of the reasons we recommend adding some days in Rome to the end of a Puglia incentive trip for larger groups. There’s even a pleasant train journey from Puglia to Rome that provides an opportunity for a few extra enhancements—like a private train car with a picnic lunch. The train journey is three or four hours long, but it will fly by!”
Excited to see which other locations our buyers suggest? Check out their top 10 incentive travel destinations.