Avoid these common incentive travel mistakes

Paul Nolan

Mistakes can be costly, especially if you’re planning an incentive travel program in-house. This list of common mistakes, created by Gavel International, a meetings and incentive management company, can prevent a lot of headaches.

Ambiguous goals – You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. Consider by how much you want to do things like reduce costs, improve productivity or increase revenue, and then determine a specific measure. For example: “Increase revenue by 10 percent within the next 18 months.”

Ignoring the needs of participants – Will married individuals be as likely to pursue a trip that doesn’t include their spouse? What about trip length? A longer trip may appeal to many, but it would also mean more time without getting work done, or placing extra burden on those who aren’t winners. A short trip would help keep winners from being behind on work when they return, but a two-day affair might not be a sufficient amount of time to motivate participants. These are important considerations, and you can only resolve such questions by talking with the relevant employees.

Insufficient awareness – You can have a knockout destination, but it won’t do any good if the majority of employees aren’t aware there’s an incentive program going on. That means more than a kickoff. Keep employees updated on their progress, praise milestones and continue to showcase the destination, venue and activities you’ve chosen.

Unrealistic deadlines – If participants don’t have enough time to meet the reward’s requirements, they may not put in the effort to make the trip. They need the time to work their way toward the goal, with the confidence that they really stand a chance of success. Consider talking to your employees in order to create a realistic timeframe that is neither too challenging nor too easy.

Unmonitored progress – Management must monitor employee progress, expectations and morale. It doesn’t do much good to implement a program and then step away for the entirety of the program. Encouraging progress boosts morale and keeps participants engaged. Additionally, regular monitoring can help identify possible performance laggards so they can get the extra help they may need to improve performance.