The 2016 Incentive Travel Trend Forecast

Sweet, sweet freedom. Your attendees earned the opportunity to explore on their own.

Sweet, sweet freedom. Your attendees earned the opportunity to explore on their own.

With the state of the incentive industry stronger than ever, we're seeing changes (good ones!) in reward trip budgets and the types of experiences your attendees really want. We've pulled our top five.

Freedom of choice (or just plain freedom):
The standard "golf or spa" day is on the decline as more attendees want to discover a new destination on their own. This means more free time on itineraries along with more cash allowances. If you'd rather keep the structure, consider a variety of activities that will appeal to multiple generations and lifestyles with moments of downtime sprinkled in.

Cultural Immersion:
Attendees, especially the younger demographic, want to connect deeply to the locations they are visiting. It's less about the large resort accommodations and more about boutique hotels and proximity to a destination's epicenter of culture, local restaurants, festivals, etc. In all venues, consider opportunities for guests to experience a sense of place. For example, Four Seasons Punta Mita will actually prepare gourmet cuisine from your group's fishing trip.

Better Gifts:
One of our favorite trends are memorable corporate gifts that drive brand loyalty and, shocker, aren't always branded with your company's name (step away from the embosser). If you really want to be a hit, consider personalized experiences like custom Maui Jim fittings, the Bose Event Experience or a merchandise bar of similarly priced Lo & Sons travel bags.

International Destinations:
With bigger budgets, it's more plausible to think outside the box (er, U.S. border) in terms of destinations. While Mexico and the Caribbean have always been convenient picks, broaden your horizons to Europe, Asia or Australia. Wherever your itinerary takes you, it's all about creating lasting memories. Snorkeling for vibrant fish in the warm water of the West Indies before watching the sunset on a catamaran is not quickly forgotten.

Giving Back:
Traveling is a welcome opportunity to keep organizations mindful of their corporate social responsibility to the world. As stated in this article, "Even the world's most beautiful destinations have a reality that contrasts their picture perfect exterior. What if the incentive travel industry could actively give back to the tropical getaways some call home?"

What changes have you seen in incentive travel that will enhance your attendee experience? We'd love to hear them in the comments section below.