When offering your employees an incentive reward, it makes sense to choose a program that will actually motivate and excite your staff. But how can you know what type of reward that might be?
Business News Daily says, “it’s critical — now more than ever — to keep employees motivated.” A 2018 Cornell University study released its findings that the top three incentives are:
With the potential for an economic slowdown in 2023, it might be counter-intuitive to think that an experience-based reward will be as valuable as a cash reward, so we checked with the Incentive Research Foundation to see what their IRF 2023 Trends Report had to offer.
Their findings echoed the Cornell University study and reported,
“With stubborn inflation and ongoing workforce challenges, non-cash incentives are considered more valuable and impactful than ever.” In more good news, “…the IRF’s research found that incentive industry professionals financial and economic expectations for 2023 were largely positive.”
A snapshot of the findings report:
- Among North American respondents, 88% agree that their “company would have a strong financial performance” in 2023; 47% “strongly agree.”
- North Americans’ expectations for 2023 were ahead of the 78% who predicted, in the previous year’s survey, that their company would have a strong 2022 and ahead of the 85% who expected in 2019 that 2020 would be a strong year.
- The financial outlook among European respondents was also positive, at 82%, with 30% strongly agreeing on the robust 2023 outlook.
Furthermore, in North America, “50% of respondents stated that high inflation increased the value of non-cash incentives.”
With these findings in mind, offering a travel experience could be one of the best opportunities you could offer to build loyalty and increase motivation in your company. A travel reward can create long-lasting memories and build relationships, while giving (cash that will most likely go to pay bills) doesn’t provide these benefits.
Plus, let’s be honest, don’t we all just wish we could fly away for a destination experience where we can leave our day-to-day worries and grind behind?
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How Easy is Implementing a Merchandise & Travel Rewards Program?
While you certainly can set up your own merchandise and travel program, you might find it a little overwhelming.
- Set up an online portal customized and branded specifically to your needs.
- Format the portal using a points system that can be regularly updated on an annual, quarterly, or even monthly basis.
- Find the right incentives provider for your program.
- Choose the tangible rewards you’ll have available in your web portal based on your employee demographics.
- Design an online catalog of anywhere from 25 to 50 items and getaway options.
And once you have your program set up, you’ll want to leverage your employee’s positive experiences to further incentivize other employees. You can do this by incorporating a photo gallery into your web portal, including a brief written testimonial and a picture or two from an employee in your company’s email newsletter.
To maximize the potential reward when it comes to increasing brand affinity, it’s important to include spouses, partners, and families as part of your travel reward offerings. This provides the opportunity to demonstrate to both your participants and their families that you value their relationships and collective well-being.
You’re going out of your way to facilitate an experience that will create lasting family memories. Your participants’ spouses/partners will also quickly become fans and lifelong supporters of your company and brand, even as your participants’ brand affinity grows due to the trip.
Another Option for You
If setting up your own merchandise and travel rewards program seems like more work than you can handle, we can help.
We can customize your rewards center to suit either option, and we’ll do all of the planning and ordering for you. Also, the quantity of items offered and frequency of updates is entirely up to your organization’s specific needs – no more one-size-fits-all catalogs.
In addition to offering merchandise items, program recipients always enjoy a luxurious getaway, which is why we love to include travel options as a reward. Most getaway rewards include airfare for two, along with hotel accommodations and tickets to a nearby attraction.
Some of the hottest travel incentive getaway destinations in the U.S. for 2023 let your employees get there on a direct flight, eliminating long travel days and hassle. And we certainly don’t suffer from a lack of breathtaking sights and exciting adventures on our native soil.
A few of the destination trips we’ve provided to our clients include:
- New York City, NY
- Asheville, NC
- Las Vegas, NV
Here are some highlights of what a trip to New York, Asheville, and Las Vegas looks like.
New York City, NY
It’s hard to argue with the notion that there’s something magical about visiting New York City. With its iconic landmarks, like the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty, there’s plenty to see just by strolling down the streets.
And to the surprise of many, New York City is the greenest city in America, and its 843-acre Central Park is only one of the city’s 1,700 parks and playgrounds. It’s hard to beat this city when it comes to shopping, theatre-going, and exciting nightlife.
New York City has three major airports: Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and LaGuardia Airport. The JFK Airport is the easiest one to get to and from on the metro and has a wide variety of flight departure times and destinations.
Larissa Allbright, on her blog, Travel Lemmings, has been a New York City local for seven years, and her top picks for places to stay are:
- Best Overall Hotel – The Langham, New York
- Best Luxury Hotel – The Mark Hotel
- Best for Families – Loews Regency
- Best for Business – Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
- Best Boutique – Crosby Street Hotel
- Best Near Central Park – 1 Hotel Central Park
- Best Budget – The Jane
Not-to-be-missed experiences while in the city include:
- Central Park
- Rockefeller’s Top of the Rock Observatory
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty
Best travel tip for New York City: Get a New York Pass to save time, money, and stress.
Almost 700 miles south of New York City is the charming city of Asheville, NC. It’s nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains, and the city is known for offering big city perks while maintaining a small-town feel.
Known as the Paris of the South, it has a “rich architectural legacy” and is the “perfect retro-urban backdrop to the edgy energy that emanates from the locally-owned shops and art galleries, distinctive restaurants, and exciting entertainment venues.”
The closest airport is Asheville Regional Airport, which is approximately 20 to 30 minutes from Biltmore, depending on the time of day your flight arrives. Travel to the heart of the city by bus, taxi, or car. There are 72 weekly bus trips that only last 33 minutes and cost $2.
Some of the best places to stay in the city, according to Uncorked Asheville, are:
- Aloft Asheville Downtown
- The Foundry Hotel Asheville
- Double Tree by Hilton
- Hotel Indigo
- Haywood Park Hotel
- The Windsor Boutique Hotel
Not-to-be-missed experiences while you’re in the city include:
- Biltmore Estate
- Trombatore Trail to Blue Ridge Pastures hiking trail
- Soco Falls in Maggie Valley
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre
- North Carolina Arboretum
Las Vegas, NV
On the opposite side of the country, Las Vegas, NV, is best known for its casinos and world-class entertainment, but step away from the Strip, and there are acclaimed museums, public golf courses, and the Mojave Desert.
Temperatures during the summer are often over 100 degrees and can reach 110. Fortunately, almost all buildings in the city are air-conditioned, with locals limiting their outdoor activities to early mornings and after sunset.
The Harry Reid International Airport is just two miles away from Las Vegas Blvd and 3.5 miles from the Las Vegas Convention Center. Most hotels are located a short 15-minute drive from the airport.
Some of the best places to stay in the city, according to Isabelle Pavese at Travel Lemmings, include:
- Best Overall Hotel – The Cosmopolitan
- Best Luxury Hotel – Encore at Wynn
- Best for Families – Red Rock Casino
- Best for Business – Bellagio
- Best Boutique – Four Seasons Hotel
- Best Near the Las Vegas Strip – Caesar’s Palace
- Best Budget – NoMad Las Vegas
Not-to-be-missed experiences while you’re in the city include:
- David Copperfield at the MGM Grand
- The High Roller(coaster) at the LINQ Ticket
- “O” by Cirque du Soleil at the Ballagio
- Red Rock Canyon
- Boulder City and Hoover Dam Tour
- Lake Las Vegas
We’ve also worked with clients to build destination reward trips to these cities and events:
- Miami, FL
- Napa Valley, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Alaskan cruise, AK
- The Masters Tournament, GA
- The Super Bowl
- Golf Resorts in CA or FL
- Disney World, FL
Let’s talk about some of these amazing destinations, starting at the beginning of this list, in Miami, FL.
Miami, FL, offers something for everyone. The city is gorgeous with perfect year-round weather, where one can enjoy relaxing afternoons on one of several beaches followed by exciting evenings in the downtown core.
The city is also a shopper’s paradise, offering many opportunities for hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures. At the end of the day, there are a wide variety of options for places to stay, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels.
Napa Valley, CA, is known as wine lovers’ country, which is undoubtedly true, but there are plenty of things to do, even for those who aren’t wine aficionados. The Valley has great weather year-round, incredible views, with places to explore.
The best time of year to visit is in the late summer or early fall. The temperatures have dropped by this time, and the fall colors are in all their glory, making the many hiking trails a popular and fun activity.
San Francisco, CA, is a city everyone should visit at least once in their lives. It’s been voted one of America’s favorite cities year after year. The city is packed with diverse culture, amazing food, and so much to see and do.
One of the charms of San Francisco is that it’s small enough geographically that it can be explored on foot in a couple of days. Walking through Chinatown, shopping in Union Square, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, and riding the cable cars are just a few of the experiences to be had in the city.
Taking an Alaskan cruise is one of the best multi-generational experiences families and friends can have. The state itself is home to some of the most incredible natural wonders anywhere on the planet, and the trip up and back is just as memorable.
The peak season runs from May to September, and the fresh seafood available during that time is second to none. Steeped in history, there are many interactive ways to connect with the area’s Gold Rush days, sail into the Sawyer Glacier, and experience a dog sledding expedition, to name a few.
Attending the Masters at Augusta National is sure to be on every hard-core golfer’s bucket list. Watching the golfers play in person brings a whole new appreciation to the sport, and walking the course gives a unique understanding of how the course fits together in a way watching from the couch can’t.
Even watching the players warm up and prepare for the event is exciting, and doing so in a logoed golf shirt while sampling one of the course’s legendary pimento cheese sandwiches and a pink lemonade is next level. Perfect for a family trip or with a group of like-minded enthusiasts, the trip will never be forgotten.
The Super Bowl is so much more than just watching one game of football. Whichever city the event is in gets transformed into football heaven for an entire week in a mixture of electrifying chaos with a carnival feel.
Local restaurants get on board and often have a special campaign to help everyone get into the spirit of the game. The crowds are all in a great mood, and fans are eager to celebrate the spirit of the game with generosity and kindness.
The Rest of the List
We could go on for much longer, but here’s the rest of the list of “25 of the Hottest Travel Incentive Destinations for 2023.”
We’ve expanded the list to travel outside the continental U.S., and it’s hard to say which ones are better than the other:
- Big Island, Hawaii
- Sorrento, Italy
- Guanacaste, Costa Rica
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Anguilla, Caribbean
- Mallorca, Spain
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- George Town, Grand Cayman
- Los Cabos, Mexico
- Santorini, Greece
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- Dublin, Ireland
- Bora Bora, French Polynesia
- Whistler, Canada
While travel destinations are just one incentive program, it’s certainly one of the most exciting options that many people would never justify giving themselves.
If this list has sparked your interest, we at Level 6 would love to do the heavy lifting on your incentive program. We’ll take care of all the setup and follow-through so you and your employees can simply enjoy the excitement and the experience.
Claudine is the Chief Relationship Officer at Level 6. She holds a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Her experience includes working as a certified conflict mediator for the United States Postal Service, a human performance analyst for Accenture, an Academic Dean, and a College Director. She is currently an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Southern New Hampshire University. With over 20 years of experience, she joined Level 6 to guide clients seeking effective ways to change behavior and, ultimately, their bottom line.