2020 brought us many unexpected changes. The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge disruption across the globe. This has resulted in major economic challenges for many industries. At Uniqueworld, we remain optimistic of the future and predict 2021 to be the year of innovation. With AI, genomic research, electric vehicles (EV), and green energy such as Waste-to-Energy Power generation being a small handful of industries booming. International economies could be set to return stronger should the holy grail of the vaccine work as we hope it to. On top of this with Europe agreeing on a deal with China and hopefully Brexit now behind us, surely the graph line can only point up!
However, our beloved MICE industry is among the worst hit, as like many others within the hospitality industry, which has seen greater job losses in the UK than any other sector. Incentive group travel, a key part of this sector, has been hit hard.
Business incentive trips are a powerful motivator for employees and can increase job satisfaction. So what does the future hold for this part of the travel and tourism sector? Read on to see what we can expect in the coming year.
What Is Incentive Group Travel?
For those that are new to the industry. Incentive group travel is a sub-set of the MICE planning sector (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions). A travel company that specialises in this area will combine the services of a travel agency with those offered by event planners.
Our Global DMC Supplier Network assists corporate incentive travel planners to help event planning companies organise trips to reward and motivate their staff. A good incentive travel example is an all-expenses-paid trip for a team, as a reward for hitting their sales targets.
Incentive Agency Meaning
Incentive group travel specialists help clients to plan bespoke trips for their employees. For incentive travel companies in the UK, these trips could be to a wide variety of destinations, including within the UK but also to resorts in Europe, the USA and Asia.
These trips are tailored to cater to the specific needs and tastes of the employee group in question. This creates a VIP experience to reward top earners for their efforts. Creating memories that individuals will cherish builds loyalty and increases employee performance.
Working With UK Group Travel Companies
When planning business incentive trips for your teams, you can glean a lot of benefits from working with specialists. A motivation group travel company will have all the expertise needed to arrange trips of the highest quality, to meet the exacting standards of corporate clients.
Uniqueworld Global Destinations have access to a wide network of destination management companies, who can work with corporate clients to plan the perfect luxury trip. They will have the best local knowledge to provide an authentic, unforgettable experience.
There may seem to be additional cost added into the process by using a “middle man”. But often, using a specialist service will actually save money in the long run. A UK incentive travel company will have access to the best deals for accommodation, transport and local entertainment. This can reduce the overall cost of the trip.
How Does Incentive Travel Motivate Employees?
Recent research has shown that many staff recognition programmes in the UK are ineffective and detached from their employees’ needs. Reward strategies for employees need to be part of everyday culture. They need to focus on the most effective means to garner staff motivation and loyalty.
While it’s tempting to offer cash rewards for a quick fix, non-cash rewards tend to result in more profound and longer-lasting motivation. Travel, in particular, provides memorable experiences which generate loyalty to the company. This is where incentive agencies in the UK can help.
Company trips create a buzz of anticipation in the office prior to departure. They provide teams with a relaxed environment to socialise and build team spirit. The team come home with shared memories and return to work refreshed, more productive and motivated.
The Pandemic’s Impact on Incentive Travel in the UK
Early on in the pandemic, many companies simply postponed trips to later in the year. In the spring of 2020, it seemed link things might be back to normal by the autumn. But this has not proved to be the case, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world.
The reality is that group travel has been off the menu for the whole of 2020. Some companies have switched to virtual team gatherings, which they would previously have held at high profile luxury destinations.
Even where travel restrictions have been lifted, companies have been reticent to run group trips, due to concerns about their duty of care for their employees as well as worries about losing money if travel rules change at the last minute and the trip has to be cancelled.
However, many of our destination management companies are predicting an increase in face-to-face events in the first half of 2021. There is a growing sense of optimism. So what does the future hold?
Incentive Travel in 2021 and Beyond
A report published by McKinsey in June 2020 showed that CEOs of key organisations believed that recovery in the travel industry would be slow. Companies looked for alternative reward strategies.
But with the development of a vaccine, the future is beginning to look brighter, and many companies are now making bookings for 2021. Hotels and other venues are responding by being more flexible about cancellation policies and also responding to clients’ concerns about safety.
Another recent study by the Incentive Research Foundation shows that people are craving travel and are desperate for new experiences. This makes sense, considering how restricted life has been living under the restrictions necessary to control the spread of the virus.
So it looks hopeful that 2021 will see a recovery, and 2022 may see a boom in incentive travel. But things are likely to be different for the foreseeable future.
How Might Things Change?
Most people who are not in high-risk categories or frontline jobs will have to wait well into 2021 to receive the vaccine. So until then, safety measures will need to remain in place in a variety of settings. And incentive group travel will be no different.
We can expect social distancing, regular hand washing, cleaning of surfaces and the wearing of masks to remain part of our lives for some time to come. Some companies are addressing this by taking over whole resorts for their group travel experiences, to ensure that everyone has enough space to keep safe.
Many hotels will change their catering approach, eliminating buffets and offering plated or boxed meals instead. Some venues will be providing medical staff on-site for added peace of mind.
It’s likely that local destinations will become more popular, as people can drive there rather than having to fly. Private charter flights are another alternative at the higher end of the market. Temperature checks and Covid testing may also feature in plans to keep people safe.
The Future of Incentive Group Travel
2020 has been a tough year for all of us. Incentive group travel has been one of the many casualties of the pandemic. But as the dust begins to settle, it’s likely that your teams would be even more appreciative than normal of an amazing, bespoke travel experience.
Uniqueworld Global Destinations are a leading representation organisation with global DMC partner offices, providing motivational travel experiences for incentive travel companies and planners. We offer customised experiences at a wide range of destinations all over the world.
If you’re considering incentive group travel, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team to find out how we can help you provide an amazing experience, into 2021 and beyond.