intangible rewards

The Biggest Incentives are the Most Intangible: Why Travel Reward Programs Work

There’s something of an explorer in all of us. This takes different forms depending on what’s happening in our lives, varying from mental frontiers to physical places. However, the reality for most people is that travel is a treat (well, those who travel often for business might disagree a bit). This is why, when it comes to incentive, reward, and recognition programs, travel is the top desired incentive for employees.

A few weeks ago, Carrousel Travel hosted a forum featuring Lantern Group president and behavioral scientist Kurt Nelson, Ph.D. Nelson’s talk focused on motivation, and the role of incentive programs driving productivity. Nelson mentioned that cash is the least effective because employees feel guilt when spending cash on anything extravagant while merchandise and intangible rewards  are more desirable. A recent white paper from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF)  gives us more data to back this theory up.

Why Travel is the Ideal Corporate Incentive

The IRF found that, first of all, cash rewards tend to blur into our minds with regular pay or salary, and the money usually goes toward everyday expenses. However, intangible rewards often remain in the employee’s mind for years. Whether it’s a nice watch or a wall hanging, merchandise stirs memories anytime it’s accessed. The value doesn’t have to be literal. As an incentive, more value is derived from the circumstances around it. Working hard for a goal, and obtaining it, make intangible rewards more meaningful.

This is especially true of travel rewards. The IRF found that employees who received experiential travel rewards as a corporate incentive not only remembered the experience for years, but thought more positively of the awarding organization as well. Again, putting effort toward a goal and reaping the rewards make it more enjoyable. And using travel as an incentive creates an indelible connection between the experience and their organization.

These kinds of fun, enjoyable travel experiences also stimulate a part of the brain that cold hard cash does not. When we recall the incentive, it becomes more vivid, and there’s stronger retention tied to it. This could be tied to any number of things regarding the trip. Some emerging trends that we’re seeing include unforgettable experiences as part of the itinerary, designing wellness travel, or offering networking opportunities.

At Carrousel Travel, we’ve got a lot of ideas that can be sized appropriately to any organization. Let your employees engage their minds in new ways and let their inner explorer shine with an incentive travel program. Contact us today to design the experience of a lifetime.