How does incentive travel look like?

Travel day

FLIGHT: Guests might travel separately from different locations or, alternatively, group travel arrangements will be made where everybody takes the same flight together.

TRANSFERS: Upon arrival in the destination city, participants might be greeted at the airport by local representatives, before transferring to their hotels.

HOTEL CHECK-IN: Participants are then greeted at the hotel, checked in, and have some time to settle in before the evening’s welcome dinner. Typically a welcome pack and gift is often left in room.

RECEPTION: Welcome cocktail reception. An opportunity for everyone to meet and network, perhaps on a private terrace at the hotel, possibly with live entertainment from musicians and performers. Usually the meeting planner will add in a few extra creative touches to make the reception a little more special, such as a wine tasting.

DINNER: Open-air dinner in the hotel’s private gardens overlooking the sea, possibly with after-dinner entertainment and/or some speeches from the hosts. Often the first evening’s dinner is held ‘on-site’ at the hotel as people are tired from travelling.

AFTER-DINNER DRINKS: Often, on the first night, this is just informal after-dinner drinks in the hotel bar as most people are tired from travelling. However, depending on the group, there might be cigars and cognac laid on, or a private lounge area with cocktails.

2. day

BREAKFAST: Breakfast at the hotel, perhaps followed by an informal meeting or presentation regarding upcoming activities.

EXCURSION:  Excursion to local attractions, sightseeing, and shopping. These might be cultural activities or the opportunity to take part in authentic ‘real life’ experiences typical of the location.

LUNCH: Group lunch at a restaurant or special venue. Again, this is an opportunity for the meeting planner to get creative perhaps by obtaining access to a venue or location that’s typically not accessible to the general public—such as lunch on a movie set or in private rooms at a royal palace.

ACTIVITIES:  Afternoon of leisure activities, which depending on the group, might be traditional activities, such as golf or a spa day. Alternatively, it could be more unusual activities like cage diving with sharks or bulldozer adventure playground days. Often, the meeting planner will try to obtain some sort of unique or VIP access, such as getting to kick around footballs with a professional team and star players at their local stadium.

RECEPTION AND DINNER: The second day’s evening cocktail reception and dinner typically takes place ‘off-site’ at a restaurant or private venue, usually with entertainment. Again this might involve some sort of unusual venue, such as a USO themed event on a real naval base.

NIGHTCLUB / DISCOTHEQUE: Option to continue on to a local nightclub/discotheque/bar.

3. day

BREAKFAST: Breakfast at the hotel, perhaps followed by an informal meeting.

EXCURSION / ACTIVITIES: More leisure activities, trips, or opportunity to experience local culture. Depending on the group, this could be anything from cave tours, to zero gravity flights at a NASA training facility, to private backstage tours of a Broadway show and an opportunity to meet the cast.

LUNCH: Group lunch at a restaurant or special venue.

TEAM BUILDING: Team building / experiential activity—sometimes with a connection to the local community or a charity.

DINNER/DANCE/AWARDS: Cocktail reception, gala dinner, awards ceremony, and dancing ‘off-site’ at a private venue.

Travel day

BREAKFAST: Breakfast at hotel.

CHECK-OUT / TRANSFERS:  Hotel check-out, transfers to airport.

LUNCH: Packed lunch provided to those are on the way to the airport.

FLIGHT: Return flight home

Obviously, this format only outlines the bare bones of a travel program. The challenge for the event planner is in making these programs as creative and engaging as possible—especially when you have to create something new and different every year.