What’s new this summer in incentive travel? Here are six travel trends for 2018 to keep an eye on that will keep your programs fresh and engaging!

6 Incentive Travel Trends for 2018

1. Health & Wellness

Physical and mental health are becoming cornerstones to every high-end incentive travel program. You’ll see requests for healthier menus, an uptick in hotel spa appointments, private yoga classes, and even meditation breakout rooms just to name a few examples. Hotels seem to be picking up on this as well. Four Seasons Costa Rica is testing the concept for the brand, offering the Pura Vida for All program.

“Phase one of Pura Vida For All is designed as a preview of the full program set to launch in early 2017. The stay begins with a personalized consultation with a Wellness Concierge that will assist participants on their journey to integrate practical and positive changes to their daily lives moving forward. Guests are invited to unplug digital devices and prepare to disconnect to reconnect.”

2. Foodie Focus

Entire resorts like Belle Mont Farm, St. Kitts are aspiring to provide true farm-to-table culinary experiences to guests. This is driven quite a bit by Millennials and their preference for cultural, experiential, and organic dining. Offering activities with a local and agriculture flair while choosing destinations that have a strong culinary focus will be critical to successful incentive trips. Try incorporating dine-around options at local restaurants that tourists don’t usually frequent or even partnering with locals to offer progressive dinners in their homes!


Belle Mont farm is the perfect example of a resort using great travel trends for 2018 to benefit your group!3. Exploring Cultures

One of the strongest trends is an emphasis on cultural experiences over typical destination activities. Program participants increasingly prefer to venture out to a local village and have lunch prepared by the women of the village, see the working farm or local businesses, or engage with the local sports team that teach attendees how to play a game they’ve never heard of. Jet skiing, zip lining, and catamarans are going to take a back seat to once-in-a-lifetime chances to experience a new culture.


4. More Free Time

Limiting necessary group activities to a welcome reception and a final night has become more common as guests wish to venture out and choose how they want to spend their well-earned trip. Understanding the value in allowing guests to enjoy more time on their own, and not feeling as much pressure to force “company face time” on winners is sure to win hearts and minds.

5. Less Emphasis on Awards

This may be something that will always be debated in the industry, but we are seeing multiple clients going into 2018 with scaled back awards ceremonies. Announcing winners upfront, including something about being an award winner on their name badge, putting a flyer in the welcome packet calling out the top winners, or mentioning the high-level winner achievements at the welcome reception (or not at all) have been some recent examples of companies downplaying the pageantry. Some are even moving away from entire evenings of events focused on awards. It seems that hiring emcees, have everyone do the hand-shaking photo op on stage, and waste precious time on their trip is becoming too great a nuisance.

6. Millenial Participants

With every passing year, Millenials become a more dominant audience. We’ll see the Airbnb vs. traditional hotels arguments and the flexibility of Lyft & Uber being preferred over the structure of shuttles; check out the new Uber Events for a really cool way to integrate! With more Millenials comes a focus on local coffee, wine, and craft beers/cocktails so be sure to have your high-end beverage options on hand at all times. Always striving to be ahead of the game, hotel brands like Hilton’s new Canopy was created after three years of interviewing millennials on what they want in a hotel. The Marriott M-Beta hotel in Charlotte, Elements, and A-Loft are also seen catering to Millienails, the average five devices they travel with, and a preference to stream Netflix vs. having a traditional TV with cable in the room. They are soon going to be the largest generation in the workforce and will affect the way incentive travel develops over time.

If you want to plan an incentive trip that is current with all of the latest trends, click here to let us help you!


Julie Blank

Author Julie Blank

Director, Strategic Accounts | Expertise is pushing for excellence and making our services and deliverables as good as they can possibly be.

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