10 Jun 2022 | by Claire Woodbridge

We know that the demand of incentive travel is back, and we couldn’t be happier! However, we are not ignorant to the fact that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the industry. A report by The Incentive Travel Industry Index in 2020 identified Covid as a gamechanger for incentive travel, with 86% of buyers recognising that incentive travel would be either moderately changed (63%) or fundamentally different (23%). Understanding the importance of conscious incentive travel is fundamental to the success of rebuilding the industry, but what does it mean?

Making sustainable choices

When we think of conscious incentive travel, our first thought is often how we can make a trip more sustainable, whether this be offsetting our carbon footprint, carefully selecting suppliers based on their conscious travel principles, or sourcing locally made, sustainable gifts. The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the negative impact travel has on the environment, increasing the need to make sustainable choices now more than ever. It is essential that we consider how we can spend our budgets, so our incentive trips have a tangible, positive impact on the planet. As inVoyage highlighted, “protecting the planet doesn’t mean compromising on luxury, far from it. It actually encourages planners to think a little differently and explore more authentic, efficient and unique ways to travel and experience the planet.”

Whilst incorporating sustainability into incentive programmes is a step in the right direction, there is a lot more we can do to ensure we are travelling consciously. This requires us to consider the bigger picture, which includes travelling with a purpose.

Travelling with a purpose

The Conscious Travel Foundation define conscious travel as “Where empathy meets exploration. It requires us to have a clear reason for travel, to examine and understand its impact and to actively choose to explore the world in a meaningful, intentional way.” Previously, many incentive travel programmes were planned around a luxurious destination or hotel, with little consideration for the impact of travelling there, or for the local communities. Now we must carefully consider the opportunities to give back and make a change when selecting an incentive destination. It is essential that we consider where we are travelling to, and why we are travelling there, rather than travelling to a destination just because we can.

In the 2019 SITE Bangkok Manifesto, Denise Naguib, Vice President, Global Sustainability and Supplier Diversity from Marriot International, highlighted just some of the issues faced by destinations across the world, including threatened natural resources, changing weather patterns, over tourism and the negative impacts from a disposable culture. As incentive planners, we must recognise that these issues, combined with the negative impacts of the pandemic, give us a great responsibility to consider how we can provide tangible solutions to protect and conserve destinations for generations to come. So how do we do this?

Including CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities within an incentive programme is something we have encouraged clients to do long before the pandemic. From building a school for a local orphanage to tracking endangered animals on safari, the opportunities are endless and offer highly memorable, authentic experiences. CSR activities can be relatively simple yet make a significant impact on the local environment or community. With an increasing number of employees wanting to work for companies that are socially responsible, CSR activities should remain at the forefront for incentive planners.

Travelling with a purpose not only gives back to local communities but can benefit the individual traveller too. It gives them the power to make a change, which can create an everlasting legacy of the incentive trip as they become part of a force for good, a far greater reward than one staying in a luxury hotel or travelling to a luxury destination alone. CSR experiences also allow individuals to connect more deeply with the destination they are in, as well as connect with their fellow travellers, helping to strengthen bonds and build positive relationships.

Paving the way

The aim of The Conscious Travel Foundation is to make travel matter and allow people to explore the world with purpose and reason, forming meaningful connections with the places they visit - an aim that should be shared by all incentive travel professionals. Whether it’s through making sustainable choices or providing opportunities for travellers to give back, we must become part of the solution, ensuring our collective impact is felt across the world.

If you’d like to discuss how you can provide a conscious incentive travel reward to your employees, Penguins Events is here to help. We have the knowledge to help create authentic, memorable experiences that reward winners in more ways than one. To enquire, call us now on 01753 833 811 or email us at hello@penguins.co.uk.

 
Claire Woodbridge

By Claire Woodbridge

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