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7 Reasons To Use a Sales Incentive Travel Program

Laura Broman | July 3, 2019

We love travel. When HMI was first created nearly 40 years ago, it was initially only as an incentive travel and meetings company. As time has passed and we’ve expanded into other areas of incentives, incentive travel has always remained close to our hearts.

And for good reason: for many companies, a sales incentive travel program can tip the odds in their favor, making them the first call in their industry.

Today, we’d like to tell you why. Here’s our top 7 reasons you should start implementing a sales incentive travel program for your sales team right now:

1. It builds loyalty.

The world of business is always evolving, growing, and shifting, but some things will never change. It’s generally better to hold on to seasoned, committed employees than to go out looking for new ones. Onboarding an inexperienced employee could be disruptive to your business operations and the introduction of a new player might upset your office’s delicate social balance. Bringing in outside hires can be expensive and risky, but what if your current team is unmotivated? What if they’re considering other options, but are looking for a reason to stay?

We talk a lot about how effective incentive travel is for building customer loyalty—but it’s just as powerful in the internal realm. Employee retention is important, and a sales incentive travel program may be your perfect solution to some of these issues.

By offering your most hardworking employees something they can’t buy in stores, something that they’ll look back on fondly years later, you’ll end up with a dedicated, team-oriented, and loyal sales force. They won’t see themselves merely as employees, but as members of a team with a real stake in the success of their company.

2. “Non-monetary” is good. “Experiential” is great.

For some people, working a job is about one thing and one thing only: the paycheck. They’re not invested in their job or their workplace, and the only rewards that will motivate these people are monetary. But for the rest of us, work is about more than just money: it’s where you’re spending half of your waking hours, after all, so ideally it should be enjoyable and fulfilling in its own right. Increasingly, businesses are turning to non-monetary rewards to motivate their top employees, from golf clubs to kitchen appliances to electronics.

But recent years have taken this a step further with the rise of “intangible” or “experiential” rewards, non-monetary rewards that come in the form of experiences. Things like backstage passes to a Broadway show, tickets to a baseball game with seats just behind home plate, and—of course— travel opportunities.

Experiential rewards like a trip to the Caribbean don’t just create lasting memories—they create a positive association with your brand and your company, an invaluable thing to have in a market so saturated with businesses it can sometimes be hard to know where to turn.

The unquantifiable, but very positive, results that generate from giving your employees a well-earned reward like this are what we in the incentives game call ROE: return on experience. Creating a positive brand presence, even internally, will lead to ripple effects elsewhere: your team won’t just perform better, they’ll also become stronger advocates for your brand allowing them to sell better, too.

3. Sales incentives give you a competitive edge in the labor market.

Here’s an issue we’ve been noticing recently across certain industries: labor shortages. Distributors in areas such as HVAC or electrical supply are seeing a wave of vacant positions as the former largest generation in history, the Baby Boomers, head into retirement without a sufficient supply of Millennials or Gen Z-ers interested in filling the gaps.

This is where creating that positive brand presence comes in again. Younger generations aren’t simply looking for a paycheck: they’re looking for a company that aligns with their values and fosters positive, mutually beneficial relationships. They actively seek out companies that focus on the ROE.

An easy example we can point to is Google, whose famously laid-back and youthful workplace culture has drawn millions of young applicants over the years.

But you don’t have to be a tech giant to take advantage of their strategies: millennials also love to travel more than previous generations and are more likely to prioritize travel or other bucket-list experiences in their time off. A sales incentive travel program is a built-in opportunity for them to achieve some of their dreams. Offering something they really value and will work hard to achieve will give you a competitive boost in a saturated labor market. You won’t just get more applicants—you’ll get better ones too.

4. Competition drives performance.

We can all admit it: competition is fun. That’s why we play games. By now you should be pretty familiar with the term “gamification”—but we can’t emphasize enough how effective it is as a motivational strategy.

Not all sales incentive travel programs need to be competitions, but it’s a strategy many go for: fostering a sense of friendly competition drives engagement in a program, and engagement drives performance. Everybody wants to win, whether the game is for an all-expenses-paid trip to somewhere amazing or for something as simple as bragging rights.

But you can make your travel program about more than just the winner at the end: the process can be fun too. This way, even those team members who don’t earn a trip will feel like it was a fulfilling experience.

5. Have we mentioned enablement yet?

We love all things eLearning and enablement. Usually we discuss these topics in the context of channels, i.e., how to turn your channel partners into experts and advocates for your product. For example, an enablement program could offer an online course to its participants that teaches them how to operate a complicated aspect of one of your products.

You can just as easily apply these strategies to members of your own employees. With a sales incentive travel program, the end goal is inevitably to get your participants—in this case, members of your sales team—to bring in more money to your company by selling more product. But along the way you can encourage practices that will help them improve as salespeople and, in doing so, get that much closer to earning a trip.

Moreover, you can use the trip itself as an opportunity for enablement. While your trip earners will be spending most of their time exploring tourist attractions or relaxing on the beach, you can also include team-building activities or mini-courses on skill improvement. Your winners will return from their trip relaxed, refreshed, and even better salespeople.

6. ROI, always and forever.

ROE is good and all, but let’s be real here—we’re here for the ROI. Running a business is a constant gamble on investment, whether you’re into taking big risks or you’d rather take baby steps. So, don’t worry—although incentive travel might seem like a big investment, put the work in and you’ll find yourself raking in the returns. At HMI, for example, our incentive travel programs generate 527% ROI on average.

7. Conclusion: We can site our sources

Don’t take our word for it: ask the research experts. Whether it’s the Incentive Research Foundation, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, or any other group dedicated to incentive studies, the numbers all show the same thing: incentive travel works. ROI, brand culture, performance improvement, loyalty—whatever the reason, year by year more companies are using sales incentive travel programs to motivate their internal sales teams, and they’re finding better results than ever before.

Sources

https://neilpatel.com/blog/googles-culture-of-success/

https://www.hipmunk.com/tailwind/generation-gap-what-your-age-says-about-how-you-travel-2/

https://www.siteglobal.com/page/research

http://www.incentivefederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Incentive-Marketplace-Estimate-Research-Study-2015-16-White-Paper.pdf

http://theirf.org/research/irf-webinar-spring-2019-irf-academic-quarterly-review/2640/

http://theirf.org/research/type/1/

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

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