These hot spots are catching incentive planners’ eyes
By Donna M. Airoldi
The U.S. incentive travel market is in expansion mode, with nearly 40 percent of companies using travel to
reward and recognize top performers, and
budgets on the rise, according to the “
Incentive Industry 2017 Outlook” report, released
in January by the Incentive Research Foundation. And that means planners are looking to
expand their destination options.
“Part of it is the strong dollar, and part is
just budgets availing themselves more to being
able to go farther out,” says IRF president
Melissa Van Dyke.
But companies continue to seek exciting
places to motivate their employees, in order
to avoid the “been there, done that” factor.
So which places did they name? There were
dozens — no surprise, given how subjective a
word like “excitement” is.
One planner said New York always makes
the list for U.S. destinations. Some mentioned
that “glamping” (glamorous camping) contin-
ues to interest groups, and praised The Resort
at Paws Up, in Montana. And Costa Rica con-
tinues to lead the pack for eco incentives. But
the latter two concepts are for select groups.
Some planners mentioned that having
younger audiences means including more outdoor activities in programs. While that’s true,
what others noted, regardless of generation, is
making activities more personalized, and creating really small groups for activities.
“The more intimate and experiential you
can make it, it makes them feel like they live
there,” says Meg Pisani, director of supplier
relations for Maritz Travel. “They’re not going
to get that touring as 25 people following
someone with a hat and a flag. They’ll feel like
sheep being herded. Guests really want to be
treated like individuals.”
It was hard to narrow the list, but here are
the places that came up multiple times.
Planners practically crooned when they talked about this island in the Atlantic, which is
attracting groups for its one-of-a-kind sights
and outdoor adventures. “It’s absolutely stellar,” says Jo-Anne Helotes, principal of Progressive Inc.
A broadcast client brought 80 attendees to
Iceland and activities included self-drive super
Jeep tours (with 38-inch wheels to navigate
the island’s terrain), snowmobiling on the
Langjökull Glacier, ATVing in back country,
dogsledding, spelunking, ice hiking, and more.
Naturally, there also were stargazing and seeing the Northern Lights.
For Bonnie Boisner, vice president of event
management at Aimia, the response from
Dubai New Zealand