The top incentive trip trends for 2017

Brexit seems to be the Macbeth of the incentive travel industry, especially as no one truly knows what will happen in the near future. This uncertainty has seen a decrease in long haul travel and a bigger focus on Europe and the UK. We can expect the UK to be a popular incentive destination for the international market as well as for those closer to home; looking to hold incentives in places such as Scotland and Wales.

There is less emphasis on trying to find a new destination but rather a focus on the content of the programme. Clients are looking to encourage relationship building and having meaningful and authentic experiences. The most well-trodden European destinations such as Barcelona, Paris and Rome still have plenty to offer.

There has also been a shift in the type of client, the Baby Boomers are retiring and the Millennials are taking over. Their expectations and definition of incentive travel is very different. Experience is the new luxury. Millennials are looking for one-of-a-kind events, incorporating elements like locally authentic cuisine as a reflection of culture, entertainment that reflects the sights and sounds of the destination, and excursions centred on local practices and customs.

Witnessing a lion hunt a zebra during an African safari…an afternoon spent immersed in the Maori culture in New Zealand…a husky sleigh ride in Lapland…these are one-of-a-kind experiences unique to the destination. When a group experiences these one-of-a-kind moments together, be that a special meal, unique activity or tour, the memories created will be priceless. Also, the camaraderie experienced will forge relationships; something that is key to Millennials as they don’t have the history of the Baby Boomers.

More than just an out-of-the-ordinary experience, we are seeing a shift towards ‘social good’. The last few years saw a growth in companies looking at the ‘green’ practice of destination hotels and suppliers. Today, Millennials are demanding “social impact travel” where fun and sun meets the ability to have a social impact as well. People want to be a part of the community and contribute to it; they want to feel like they’ve made a genuine connection with the people and the environment of their chosen destination.

We have also seen a rise in mental well-being with the likes of meditation and mindfulness sessions offered in the workplace. This has crossed over to incentive travel. Millennials are much more health conscious than their Baby Boomers counterpart, physical and mental health is of vital importance. More and more hotels offer healthy breakfasts and snacks, superfoods are on the increase in menus and encouraging staff to have time out is part of everyday life. Wellness travel which offers a more holistic approach to incentive trips is a hot trend for 2017.

It wouldn’t be right to mention trends for incentive travel in 2017 without talking about technology. Technology continues to be at the forefront of incentive trip trends because social technology has changed how we communicate. Nowadays it’s all about the shareable moments, unique hashtags and the dreaded humble brag! Mobile apps are now expected at events and these work well to keep guests engaged before, during and after the incentive trip.

We believe 2017 will be an exciting year. A year where we will be challenged to come up with new and exciting incentive travel programmes at well-known destinations, discover more unique and off the beaten path locations, create authentic experiences and ensure guests are looked after inside and out. How will we do this? With a tap of a button on our specially designed app, of course.

At Villiers we are passionate towards creating that once-in-a-lifetime incentive trip. Get in touch to start planning your bespoke programme today.