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Coworkers Riding bikes on an incentive trip

Your Roadmap to Selecting Your Next Incentive Trip Destination

🚗*Beep beep* Get in, event planners; we’re going destination shopping! With so many dynamic and fascinating locales coast-to-coast, selecting the perfect one for your next incentive trip can feel overwhelming. #ProTip: Closing your eyes and selecting a spot on the map at random isn’t a recipe for success. Luckily, with 360DG by your side, you’ll never end up in uncharted territory. We’re here to guide you through every step of the process, from destination must-haves to presenting your findings to decision-makers. So, get that road mix queued up – let’s go!

Key Destination Factors to Consider

As with any journey, it all starts with the keys. Each destination has unique advantages and potential challenges depending on your group’s needs. In our experience, you should start by ensuring your bases are covered no matter what type of trip you’re planning. We’d recommend paying particular attention to the following factors when building your initial list of potential destinations.

1) Accessibility, Appeal, and Availability

When it comes to planning any incentive trip, it’s as much about the journey as it is the destination. You don’t want to burden your group with complicated travel itineraries, so make sure your mindset is accessibility-first. Look for places that have straightforward air access or other easy travel options based on where your attendees are coming from. Incentive winners won’t appreciate a trip that feels like a quest!

Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, the same is true when it comes to a destination’s offerings. Planning for any group means you’ll need to appeal to a wide range of interests and activity levels. Ensure that any location you’re scoping out has options for exploring, chilling, or just soaking up the vibe. Seek out destinations with fantastic food and cool cultural experiences. It’s all about immersing yourself in the flavor of the place. You want to give your group the best overall experience possible!

If you have your heart set on a particular locale, start by checking with your DMC or the local travel and advisory board to see what’s happening in the area during the dates you’re targeting. This serves two purposes: First, if there are a number of festivals or city-wide celebrations occurring, chances are that accommodations will be tough to come by. Your DMC can negotiate a temporary hold on lodging and event spaces ahead of time. Secondly, if any major construction projects are going on in the area or the hotel itself, this can put a big hitch in your plans. If your group arrives to find heavy equipment on the hotel doorstep, they won’t be happy. So, plan accordingly!

If availability is a concern for your group, Las Vegas is the jackpot! Vegas is home to a hotel room inventory that beats just about any other major city.

Download our Las Vegas Sample Incentive Trip Itinerary

2) Don’t Bust Anyone’s Budget

Let’s talk budget. It’s important to consider your program spend as well as the expenses your group may have to cover themselves. While travel costs are typically taken care of for winners, they may want to bring a guest (or two). Some may even use this trip to kick off a family vacation. So, you don’t want to choose a location that will be cost-prohibitive.

3) Climate-Friendly Considerations

When choosing venues for off-sites or dine-arounds, prioritize those that cater to sustainability needs and give back to the local community. If you can tie your incentive trip back to your company or your client’s sustainability or CSR goals, you’ll have a better chance of getting the green light. Plus, knowing you’re leaving a positive footprint always feels good.

One more note on the climate: Check the forecast! Do some research to ensure that your preferred dates coincide with the best weather the destination has to offer.

Must-Ask Destination Questions

Ok, so at this point, you’re probably ready to dive into the details. Whether you’re working with a DMC to vet your options or not, we want to give you the tools you need to guide your decision-making process. When you go on a site visit or if you’re working with other local destination pros, be sure to get answers to the following. Or, better yet, explore the area for yourself!

1) What’s the Vibe Like?

Don’t rely on what’s featured in the postcards; try to immerse yourself in the local culture and customs to get a feel for the destination. While conducting your site visits, chat with locals to get their insights and recommendations. See what they’d recommend in terms of team-building activities and group experiences as well.

2) Can’t Miss Attractions and Scenic Spots

What are the absolute must-dos for your group? Explore and experience local attractions and activities, keeping your group’s demographics and needs in mind. Seek out scenic spots and viewpoints to capture the beauty and uniqueness of the destination. Whether it’s a panoramic vista, a serene beach, or a lush park, make sure there are plenty of Instagram-worthy moments. Discover any insider intel for avoiding lines and crowds in local hotspots as well – your attendees will thank you.

Download our Laguna Beach Sample Incentive Trip Itinerary

3) Finding Local Flavor

When (not if) you find a local foodie, grill them! Ask how they would describe the cuisine and culinary culture of the area. Are there some great places where we can get a taste of the local flavors? What farm-to-table or other sustainable dining options are available? From fine dining to street food, ensure there’s something to satisfy every palate.

4) Safety First

Talk to local experts or your DMC and learn about any safety measures and security protocols your group should know. Are there any areas you should avoid? How can your venue help you mitigate these? What security measures can those on-site take so everyone stays safe throughout your trip?

Mastering Your Site Visit: A Guide to Success

Looking for some guidance on how to conquer your next site visit? Well, one of our fearless leaders, Shelly Archer, wrote a comprehensive article on this topic! Check out How to Rock Your Next Site Visit. In addition to the tips listed here, remember to take lots of notes, they will inform and guide you later on. 

How to Narrow Down Your Options

So much goes into a final decision about the right destination for your incentive travel program. At this point in the process, you should have a shortlist of destinations that align with your company’s objectives and the preferences of your group. Ultimately, you’re only going to want to present your top two to four choices to your decision-makers. At 360DG, we’ve discovered that asking the following questions can help as you’re paring down your findings.

  1. Does the destination have the wow factor(s) to incentivize the target group?
  2. Does it meet the parameters of the company or client criteria?
  3. Is the potential cost within your budget range?
  4. Will transportation be relatively simple for the majority of the group? 
  5. Are you comfortable with the level of safety and security available?

Download our Miami Sample Incentive Trip Itinerary

How to Get Approval from Decision Makers or Clients

Once you have your top destinations selected, it’s time to make your case to your executives or clients. As with any presentation, you want to make sure you’re ultra-prepared. Research each of your potential destinations to ensure they tick all the boxes when it comes to the key factors we discussed at the beginning – accessibility, vibe, budget-friendliness, safety, and whether it’s a good fit for the group. If there’s any way to provide data, case studies, or first-hand testimonials from event participants or local experts – do it. This type of detail will only strengthen your case.

Ultimately, you want to craft a concise, impactful proposal that paints each destination in the best light. Break down the highlights, must-see attractions, fun activities, accommodations, and estimated costs. Throw in some eye-catching visuals like photos and videos to really bring it to life. If you’re working with a DMC, have them prepare a sample itinerary to give decision-makers an apples-to-apples idea of what your program could entail. The following is an excellent example of something our team created for Austin, Texas.

Download our Austin Sample Incentive Trip Itinerary

During your proposal presentation, sell the benefits by demonstrating how each destination aligns with your goals. If you can highlight potential savings or ROI, this will also get their attention. Don’t be afraid to research the good, the bad, and the ugly. You want to ensure you can face any issues head-on and offer solutions that address possible concerns in advance. Remember that enthusiasm is contagious! Bring your A-game with confidence, passion, and professionalism. Demonstrate your love for the destinations and commitment to making their incentive travel program unique and unforgettable!

The best way to get ahead of the game is to involve decision-makers early and often! Make it easy for them to provide ideas and feedback and bring them into the conversation at key points in the process, from the beginning to the final proposal. They’ll appreciate being heard and feel they have more stake in the final decision. 

No matter where you are in your incentive trip planning, 360 Destination Group would love to help! We are here to make you the hero by introducing you to the best destinations in the country and providing you with the information you need. So, the next time you’re looking for the perfect place to host your incentive trip, please get in touch!

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