The True Value of Incentive Travel

Troy (right) with Brownell team members during an incentive trip to Ireland.

Brownell CEO & President Troy Haas explains the true value of incentive travel. 

Although Brownell is widely recognized for the leisure vacations we’ve crafted over the past 132 years, we also have an equally successful, but lesser known, Incentive Travel division.

Incentive and rewards travel have earned a bit of bad rap – and maybe for good reason. I’m sure you have gotten that “SURPRISE! You’ve won an all-expenses paid cruise for two!” robo-call that doesn’t exactly call to mind images of an enriching, luxurious experience. I spend a fair amount of time combatting those pre-conceived ideas and helping companies understand the true value of incentive travel.

Brownell is a boutique firm with an approach to incentive travel design that is similar to how we approach leisure travel planning. Creating an experience for 200 top-producing bankers follows the same fastidious process of customization, curation, and execution as a European adventure for a family of four. There is no one-size-fits-all incentive trip, and we understand that your travel experience should be as unique as your company culture.

I speak passionately and with conviction about the power of incentive travel to reward and elevate teams. The tangible benefits of an incentive trip are the numbers. Employees are driven to reach their goals to earn the reward trip – and the sales reflect that motivation. But just as important are the intangible results. Travel creates loyalty, strengthens bonds, and inspires the team, but you have to experience it for yourself to truly the value of incentive travel. Time and time again the CEOs or the business owners of the companies hosting the trips comes to me on the last day and say, “Now I get it.”

As CEO of Brownell, I recently had my own “aha” moments while hosting three incentive trips for our sales and support teams. The miles and moments spent with the each group in Scottsdale, the Caribbean, and cruising the Mediterranean brought me here:

  1. Cash rewards are “ugly money” that get spent on necessities and are then immediately forgotten. Experiences are always more meaningful than “things” and have a lasting impact through the memories made.
  2. Don’t underestimate the value of being present with your top clients and top performers. Spending time with employees in a setting that doesn’t include a jacket and tie cultivates trust and allows an easy entry to really learn more about the people that make the company operate.
  3. Innovation and creativity happen much more naturally – and with better results – over a glass of wine in a beautiful destination than in a boardroom.
  4. Although a travel incentive may seem like a “vacation,” the amount of “work” that gets done on these trips is astounding.
  5. Remember when teambuilding was about “trust falls” and “ice breakers?” Caravanning through Rome on Vespas is much more fun (and effective) to bond with each other.

Troy and the Brownell team during a Vespa ride in Rome.

The common thread that made each of these three trips a success was not the reward but rather the time together. These moments spent outside of the office are an effortless way to strengthen bonds, build trust, and learn from one another. As the team simply enjoys a travel experience, the transformation happens. And though the trip is a win for the employee, it is ultimately a win for the company when people return inspired, connected, and excited to continue on a path of success.

Click here to learn more or to start planning your incentive trip.