If your work offered you the chance to travel overseas, would you work a little harder in order to earn it? A lot of employees certainly would, so much so that incentive travel has become a massive global market, and a very real part of tourism campaign spend.

Queensland alone forked out nearly $7 million to put itself top of mind for incentive travel choices. It’s a market worth considering, last year incentive travellers to Australia spent $1.2 billion; with 32 percent going to New South Wales; 30 percent to Victoria and 27 percent to Queensland, 27.

The rewards of business travel experiences are pretty well documented, with a report by Oxford Economics claiming every dollar invested in incentive travel by a company ends up returning $12.40 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.

These are pretty impressive numbers, but incentive programs don’t always work for all businesses. Putting up the cash for an employee trip in the first place is sadly out of the realms of possibility for a lot of Aussie businesses. But those that do have the dollar power, and the man power to keep oiling the cogs while other employees are off on a jaunt, see great benefits. EVT Incentive Marketing joint managing director Mercedes Trautwein tells Marketing mag that incentive travel is now a big consideration for Aussie businesses across many departments.

“Australian employers have not lost sight of the importance of incentive travel,” she says. “They realise curbing any type of business travel has a negative impact on corporate profits. Incentives are no longer the exclusive purview of the sales department, but are being put in across the board, ticking each box on the organisational chart from internal operations, franchisees and distributors to the people on the front line interacting with the potential customers. Companies big and small have had a rough ride in the last few years and are even more appreciative of their staff and distributors that have stood by and weathered the storm. The focus is on the business triumvirate of reward, retain and grow.” 

Trautwein also says travel isn’t just offered as an end goal reward anymore, there are a whole lot of other reasons why employers are sending their minions out to sea.

“In 2011, clients are certainly making the incentive budget work harder,” she explains, “where once it was solely about performance and reward, we’ve seen a trend to include:  product training, launches, team building, identification of market gaps and development of initiatives, information exchange and dissemination, change management, customer service and the current biggy:  distributor channels – where suppliers are wholly reliant on the business ownerand sales people driving one brand in favour of another. The point of difference for the sales person, well accustomed to incentives and rewards, will be the quality and originality of the incentive strategy. The concept has to be unique, underpinned by a well thought out travel experience, that excites and stimulates.”              

There lies the key to unlocking the potential of your employees on a trip, Trautwein says, don’t be afraid to get a little bit freaky and try something new.

“Recently, we saw a small automotive parts distributor run a rewards and points programme that saw an increase in sales of 40 per cent over six months,” she says. “The travel reward culminated in a progressive gastronomic afternoon which went into the evening with different food stations set up in secluded scenic spots. The ‘castaways’ were given maps and had to find their choice of activity and food. An oyster shucker was amongst the vines; snorkel and flippers were required to get to the sushi stand on a sand bank; beers were in a submerged wreck and trees had to be scaled for coconut deserts.”

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day…