3 Reasons to Outsource Your Group Incentive Travel Programs

by | March 6, 2022 | Blog

At one point or another, you’ve probably had to tackle this question: “Should I outsource?” Whether it’s your marketing efforts, your HR department, or a big IT project, there are arguments both ways.

If your company has an incentive program, you may already be allocating the job to internal staff. But is it being effectively managed? Is your program sufficiently motivating participants—is it generating the sort of ROI you expected? Or are you starting to notice inefficiencies,  things that are falling through the cracks, lackluster numbers? If you want improvement, you have two options: you can grow your company’s capabilities by adding specialist staff, or outsource it to a group of professionals.

Well, when it comes to group incentive travel programs, there is one clear answer. To run a successful program that keeps your audience engaged and motivated, you need one backed by professionals.

You may be considering a group incentive travel program for the first time, or you may even be running one yourself already. Whichever boat you’re in, take some time to consider these three reasons you should be outsourcing this function instead of trying to do it internally.

Reason 1: The Insurance Policy

While there can be hang ups and speed bumps while traveling on your own, those problems can be compounded when things go wrong for a trip with dozens or even hundreds of participants. That’s why we liken a professionally-managed incentive program to one that has a built-in insurance policy. You don’t buy insurance because you’re sure everything will always go smoothly—you buy it because you know that, on occasion, it won’t.

Now, that’s not to say that you should expect trouble with your next group trip. But there’s a difference between expecting the worst, and preparing for it. Could anyone have predicted the delays and cancellations that resulted from the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jets? Or how about travelers’ sudden uneasiness with visiting the Dominican Republic back in 2019 following media reports of strange illnesses at luxury hotels? And I doubt anyone anticipated what would happen to their group incentive trips in 2020 when they first started planning for them.

The point is that while incentive travel programs are highly motivating, they are also susceptible to a variety of global macro issues that are out of managers’ control. Despite this, however, there are still many companies out there that try to run their own group incentive travel programs, or hire a partner that focuses solely on fulfillment rather than execution. The problem with these programs in a lot of instances is that they take a full-time team to coordinate, and as a result they’re not executed in a way that fully maximizes the attendee experience.

On the other hand, when you do business with a strategic full-service group incentive travel company, you gain professional staff, whose expertise can make the difference between a truly successful trip and one that never gets off the ground.

Would you be prepared if something unexpected happened on your group incentive travel program? While this isn’t something any of us would like to think about, it is something that we all need to consider.

Reason 2: Consistent Engagement

Running a fulfilling and engaging group incentive travel program is tough work, especially when that work is distributed among only a few internal employees. In today’s world, attention spans are fleeting, which means that keeping someone engaged day in and day out requires constant effort.

Strikingly, a 2021 Gallup study found that only 36% of employees are considered “engaged” in their day jobs. What’s more, the amount of “actively disengaged” employees is up to 15%. With these statistics in mind, do you have a plan for consistently motivating employees, customers, or salespeople, not just at the beginning and end of your program, but throughout?

While an incentive trip might seem like the ultimate motivator, the truth is that even the best rewards can lose their luster over extended periods of time. If your group incentive travel program operates during the entire fiscal year, you may notice a drop-off in engagement once the initial excitement wears off. That’s why focusing on the entire communications lifecycle of a program is one of the keys to not just attracting the attention of your audience, but retaining it.

In other words, if you’re only focusing on the onboarding process at the beginning of your program, and the group travel reward at the end, you could be missing out on the many opportunities in between that can truly drive program engagement.

Reason 3: Cost Vs. Quality

Finally, while it may seem counterintuitive, the price of hiring a third-party agency is far less than having to expand your internal staff in order to meet the needs of the specialized job. Salary, benefits, you name it—it all adds up eventually, whereas outsourcing only costs an annual fee. You hear this argument often, because it is, perhaps, the most compelling.

But then again, you think, you could just use an existing staff member—say, a marketing associate who has other job requirements beyond just planning an incentive trip. That would save money, right? The truth is, though, that group incentive travel programs take up a lot of time and cost commitments when running them on your own, and you can’t always be sure that an existing employee will have the bandwidth to effectively manage the complexities of such a program.

For example, let’s say you’re asking a current marketing associate to book a travel destination for 50 of your top customers. That associate now has to either put aside their day job, or commit overtime hours to book hotels, flights, activities, transportation—the list goes on—for 50 people. And this is all while trying to find the lowest prices AND troubleshooting any issues that may crop up. Do you trust that this trip will be rewarding and cost-effective? Or have you sacrificed quality for the sake of pinching pennies?

On the other hand, let’s say you do have internal staff, but you only run one trip a year. Now, you have a person on salary only working a few months of the year. Your program may be run more efficiently now, but, again, is this going to be the most cost-effective and value-added approach?

When you outsource, however, a team of professional group travel agents is actively managing your program with skill and expertise, for a price much lower than enacting it yourself or bringing someone on full-time. Outsourcing frees up your organization’s time and wallet so that your people can focus on their primary business development strategies.

Still not convinced? That’s okay! We love to talk about this kind of thing. Reach out to HMI at 888.220.4780 or info@hmiaward.com to learn more about outsourcing your group incentive travel needs.

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