Incentive Travel Report: Our Top Destination Recommendations

One of my favorite travel articles every year is Successful Meetings’ Incentive Travel Report.  Leo Jakobson, who must be the most knowledgeable editor from the Northstar Travel Media corral of Incentive, Meetings & Conventions, and Successful Meetings publications, provides fresh insights each year on new trending incentive trip destinations.  Leo interviews senior executives from Brightspot, Maritz, Motivation, One10, PacificWorld, and United Incentives on their feet-on-the-street opinions.  Hearing from a cross-section of industry experts is incredibly helpful to discern real-life trends.

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Brightspot Incentive Travel Opinions

The ideas from our Brightspot travel team were quoted six times, which makes me incredibly proud that Leo recognized our insights.  As our Brightspot spokesperson, we shared destination expertise on Europe, Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Florida, and the USA Southern Lowcountry.

I summarized our thoughts with this catchy quote (even though Leo opted not to print it):

“Our Maker is not making new lands.  The popular destinations are the ones that have always been popular, or incentive travelers are opting for second-tier, undiscovered lands.”

Hot U.S. Destinations

Undiscovered Hawaii – Maui, and Oahu receive 75% of Hawaii tourism.  With many travelers visiting those islands personally or for a company’s first incentive trip, we see strong interest in discovering Kauai, Lanai, or the Big Island.  With Hawaii always topping Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure rankings, I recommend clients take their incentive trip to a different Hawaiian Island every three years because each island offers an entirely different experience.  Southern USA – California and Florida remain strong, and new hotel development is attracting interest to the “Lowcountry” – the classic Southern cities of Charleston and Savannah.  In Florida, Miami and Orlando remain popular, but we see interest in moving up the Atlantic coast a short distance to Palm Beach and Boca Raton, or all the way up the state to Amelia Island, or jumping over to the Gulf of Mexico side where Clearwater, FL has added several incentive-quality hotels to their award-winning white-sand beaches (including #1 by TripAdvisor for 2018).

International Incentive Destinations

2nd Tier Europe – With the US dollar stronger against the Euro, many companies are flying across the Atlantic to 2nd tier countries in Europe that their winners might have never visited.  Popular countries are Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, and Spain – along with an interest in smaller cities in Italy.  As an extra benefit, many of these are more budget-friendly than their first-tier neighbors.

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Up & Coming Incentive Destinations

Rebuilt Caribbean – After Hurricanes Irma and Maria whacked many Caribbean islands, the resorts have used the downtime, insurance settlements, and new investments to launch massive renovations in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Anguilla, and more.  I anticipate these Caribbean islands bouncing back strong as “brand new” 2020 and 2021 trips.

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Classic Destinations Still Going Strong

Mexico continues to be the strongest incentive travel bargain with a wide range of hotel brand options as our “amigos” (friends) overcome inaccurate headlines, because the bottom-line truth from the US Department of State website is “no restrictions for travel in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Riviera Maya.”  If Americans are not involved with drug cartels, their visits to these popular destinations will be just as safe as their metropolitan US home city!

For more President Club travel ideas, grab your passport and a globe – and Contact Us. Talk with our incentive travel globetrotters; opinions are free!

Mike May

Author Mike May

President | Author of 12.5 Steps to a Perfect Incentive Program. Expertise: bucket-list incentive trips, motivational incentive program design, matching event goals with the perfect destination & hotel, cost savings strategies, global channel reward programs, and targeted communications.

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