Incentive Travel Participants Motivated by Destination Choice

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Maritz Travel's Recent Study Reveals: Participants Prefer Luxurious Trips and “Sun and Sand” Destinations

According to a recent study on 13 international destinations, destination plays a strong role in creating and sustaining motivational value among incentive travel participants. The study, conducted by Maritz Travel, indicates that visiting new destinations or destinations that seem otherwise unattainable is the overall key driver of participants. In addition, the study revealed how demographics – parenting status and gender – influenced incentive travel preferences.

Maritz Travel surveyed 1,000 U.S.-based employees who were eligible to earn incentive travel rewards in the last three years to better understand participant preferences, perceptions and appeal of incentive travel destinations. Key findings of the International Destination Index included:

  • Participants prefer luxurious trips and “sun and sand” destinations
  • Distance to a destination is not necessarily an obstacle if the trip is luxurious or something the participant would not be able to experience or otherwise attain
  • Visiting new destinations or destinations that seem otherwise unattainable are key motivators

“Well-regarded destinations with broad appeal, such as New Zealand, Australia and Europe, provide insights about what incentive travel participants truly want out of a destination,” said Jim Ruszala, senior marketing director at Maritz Travel. “Choosing a destination that falls outside of participants’ preferences, perceptions and appeal creates a substantial disadvantage in effectively tapping the full potential value of incentive travel strategies.”

The study revealed previous incentive travel earners find incentive travel more motivating than eligible, non-earners, with 70 percent wanting new and interesting destinations and 76 percent wanting to experience destinations and activities considered unattainable on their own. Non-earners indicated strong motivational value in incentive travel opportunities, ranking the appeal of incentive travel at 3.9 on a five-point scale.

“Many organizations are adopting a trial, or a first-experience approach, for new hires to help improve onboarding time and retention rates,” said Ruszala. “Not only does this encourage non-earners to work towards earning the incentive travel opportunity, it also helps increase the level of personal advocacy towards the organization, essentially creating a win-win for both the individual and the company.”

Parenting status of study participants provided unique insights into incentive travel preferences. According to the study, 65 percent of parents preferred to take their family on trips. Thirty-nine percent of parents preferred shorter, more moderate trips with destination choice. However, participants without children indicated destination distance does not negatively impact motivational value, finding distant locals, such as Australia and New Zealand, as more appealing destinations.

In addition, the study indicated that men and women have marginal differences on their incentive trip preferences. Exploring new destinations was preferred by both men and women, 68 and 73 percent respectively. The women in the study also indicated a minimal preference for more adventurous destinations, like Africa, Russia and Belize. Interestingly, there was a slightly stronger desire for men (58 percent) to take their families on incentive trips than women (52 percent).

“Destination selection can truly make or break an incentive travel program,” said Ruszala. “It is vital for organizations to balance its investment with what incentive travel participants want from a trip experience.”

For an executive summary of the study, please visit

About Maritz Travel

Maritz Travel helps create exceptional experiences that inspire people to achieve extraordinary business results. By designing and executing innovative corporate events, meetings and incentive travel programs, we help transform businesses and people. We focus on individual business objectives to provide business meeting planning and group incentive trips that drive business results and improve customer, employee and channel partner engagement. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @MaritzTravel.


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Heather Wolfe
Maritz Travel
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