Apply These 3 Incentive Travel Experience Trends Now

By: Liz Mikkelsen

The world of incentive travel is changing. It’s no longer just about the destination. It’s about engaging with your audience while on site.

Your people can purchase a trip for themselves. But to get the most mileage out of your trip, to get your people engaged and to create an irreplicable adventure, you need to focus on the experience your participants have.

cooking class

1. Participation and Interaction With the Local Community

Beaches, sand and piña coladas may appeal to some of your people. But they’re not everyone’s cup of tea—at least not all the time.

Many of your people, especially younger generations, want to be immersed in the local culture of their incentive travel destination, or at least have the option of doing so. Smart incentive travel planners are taking advantage of unique aspects of their local communities to make the most of their programs.

Here are a couple ideas on how to implement this:

  • Set up volunteer or give back opportunities at your destination.
  • Instead of restricting your people to the tourist hot spots, offer the opportunity to explore an off-the-beaten-path town nearby.


Pirate ship incentive travel event venue

2. Transforming Incentive Trip Event Spaces

Your venue is a blank canvas and you’re the artist. What will you do to breathe life into it and turn it into a vehicle for your brand?

In order to get the most from your event and maximize engagement, you need to revamp your space and turn it from bland to grand.

Here are a few ideas of creating impressive, one-of-a-kind experiences that make your people feel invested in and intrigued by your event:

  • Convert an outdoor green space into your participants’ own private festival, complete with celebrity chefs, a food competition, live music and more.
  • Don’t forget about the empty spaces on the margin of your hotel or venue. A unique structure can be built on a beach or vacant lot to create a structure that looks like it was always there, such as a pirate ship, a nightclub, a castle or anything else you can dream up.
  • If you value your participants as “family,” turn a parking lot into a lively, bustling “family reunion” with food trucks, picnic tables, concerts and games.
person riding on a bike

3. Wellness Activities

Just because your participants are on vacation doesn’t mean they want to give up their healthy habits—on the contrary, in fact. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, people typically consume more and burn fewer calories each day while on vacation—all the more reason to offer healthy options.

Millennials and Generation Z, especially, are up on this trend. For them, “wellness” isn’t the opposite of “sickness”—it’s a daily commitment to exercise and healthy eating. And they don’t want to drop their dedication to diet and positive habits just because they’re on an incentive travel trip.

More than food, they want the tools to make smart choices while on your trip. On top of the prerequisites commonly found in hotel rooms—a TV and a minibar—many new hotel rooms come stocked with the latest in wellness amenities:

  • Vitamin C shower infusers
  • HEPA air filtering
  • Bicycles for rent
  • Healthy snack options
  • TV fitness programming for in-room workouts
  • Blackout shades for a darker room and better sleep
Liz Mikkelsen
Liz Mikkelsen

Liz Mikkelsen is a Supervisor of the Event Purchasing team at ITA Group. After starting her career in the travel industry over two decades ago, she joined ITA Group in 2004 as an Event Manager, transitioned to a Buyer in 2011 and was promoted to Supervisor in 2012. Liz has bought and planned hundreds of domestic and international events with programs ranging in size from 10-20,000 attendees. Liz has a passion for developing relationships within our industry, especially hotel and DMC partners. She enjoys leading a team of Buyers and working alongside the sales team to close new business. She has a strong passion for creating unique and unforgettable experiences and has a keen eye for the details. In her free time, Liz loves to spend time with family and attend her daughter’s competitions, as well as doing yoga, cycling and reading.