In the dynamic landscape of corporate buzzwords like “social impact,” “corporate social responsibility,” “sustainability,” and “environmental, social, governance (ESG),” Achieve Incentives & Meetings sets the stage for a transformative journey. We delve beyond cookie cutter event strategies and explore the profound impact of sustainable event planning and socially responsible incentive travel programs. Join us as we uncover the game-changing potential that lies in aligning your destination events with broader strategic plans and social impact objectives that drive your bottom line.

The Power of Socially Impactful Tourism & Sustainable Event Planning

Destination events aren’t just about exploring new places; they’re a force that can shape communities, economies, and cultures. With the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry valued at a staggering USD 935.01 billion in 2023, the potential for positive change is immense.

Sustainable event planning and socially impactful tourism revolve around three pillars: people, planet, and the economy. Responsible travel is about community empowerment, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, and education.

It’s likely that your company has its own community impact or corporate social responsibility agenda, and it’s your job to make decisions that align with those goals throughout your daily work.

Incentive contests, retreats, and other business events are no different – your impact objectives can be taken into account here, too. Luckily, the concept of social impact is gaining momentum, reshaping the way we approach incentive travel and sustainable event planning for the better.

Research and trends are showing that aligning travel incentive experiences with your corporate social responsibility goals not only reflects your stakeholder interests, but it can also benefit your bottom line.

Driving Goals and Differentiating Your Incentive Travel Program with Sustainable Event Planning

Incentive trips focus on the host organization’s return on investment, motivating and celebrating key audiences to achieve stretch goals. To effectively engage potential winners, it is important to exceed their expectations and differentiate each trip significantly – both from your past events and your competitors’ trips. Essentially, how will you give your trip the edge that sets it apart from the rest?

One answer lies in sustainable event planning.

Why Social Impact Can be a Game Changer for Your Incentive Travel Program

As incentive trips aim for a robust return on investment, incorporating social impact becomes a game-changer. Experts assert that sustainable and responsible tourism not only enhances the value of trips, but also serves as a key selling point in the incentive industry.

80% of luxury travelers want to travel more responsibly, and they place increased value on sustainable and unique travel experiences. Sustainable tourism factors such as exploring new places, having unique experiences, and learning about history and culture rank as the top destination considerations for future travel plans.

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) supports this as well, finding that “unique destinations and authentic experiences appeal to well-traveled, well-compensated participants,” with authenticity mattering most to past participants, as well as unique or “money can’t buy” experiences.

The IRF also found that the best way to increase incentive effectiveness is to drive excitement through the destination. Deepening your connection to your travel destination by weaving together history, culture, and community incentivizes your participants and rewards your bottomline. The IRF also noted that authentic experiences give a true sense of history and place of the destination, creating “lasting memories for incentive travel participants.” Besides, what is more enticing than embarking on an impactful, luxury travel experience in a noteworthy destination?

Aligning incentive experiences with broader strategic plans and social impact objectives also fosters a connection between corporate values and target audiences.

According to McKinsey, employees are five times more likely to be excited about working for companies that reflect on their impact in the world. In an era where consumers prioritize environmental consciousness, travelers also desire to support organizations with similar values and clear sustainability policies (IBTM). Integrating social impact into incentives through sustainable event planning clearly aligns with socially responsible policies and values.

As incentive trips aim for a robust return on investment, incorporating social impact becomes a game-changer. Experts assert that sustainable and responsible tourism not only enhances the value of trips, but also serves as a key selling point in the incentive industry.

Sustainable Event Planning in Practice

Here are some examples of how our team at Achieve Incentives has helped our clients leave a positive impact on the people, planet, and economy through sustainable event planning for incentive trips. Our hope is that this serves as inspiration for curating your own experiences that resonate beyond the event, aligning economic success with social and environmental responsibility.

People: Celebrating Cultural Heritage

At Achieve, we have seen the profound impact of engaging attendees in, and educating them about, the rich tapestry of a destination’s culture. In a recent event in The Bahamas, we helped our client orchestrate a farewell gathering on a private island featuring a surprise Junkanoo parade, while working with a local historian to dive into the meaning behind the festivities.

Started in The Bahamas hundreds of years ago by enslaved Africans, the purpose of Junkaroo was to celebrate African heroes and reaffirm their identity by recreating rituals from home. By communicating the significance of Junkanoo to the attendees, they were able to learn about the stories and symbols that represent the unique culture of The Bahamas, while enjoying a vibrant celebration in their honor.

Planet: Promoting Local Sourcing

An effective way to integrate environmentally friendly practices is by sourcing as many event-related items as possible from the host destination. Achieve has collaborated with clients to locally source everything from food and signage to gifts and awards trophies. Selecting event menus with locally sourced food is one of the biggest ways you can reduce your event’s carbon footprint. It means food is traveling shorter distances, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, it supports local farmers and agriculture.

Recently, in Riviera Maya, Mexico, we worked with a client to not only highlight local Mayan cuisine, but also to commission artists who created beautiful, handcrafted signage that directed guests to the delicious meal awaiting them. Achieve has helped our clients align their incentive experience with their corporate values of environmental stewardship by emphasizing the use of local vendors and, in many cases, eliminating all pre-event shipping needs (in one instance, eliminating over $4,000 in shipping costs!).

Economy: Fostering Entrepreneurship

For a client experience in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Achieve organized a special cooking class at a locally-led, sustainably-operated, farm-to-table restaurant. This exclusive dining experience not only immersed guests in the authentic flavors of the locale and the craft of Mexican tortilla-making, but also invested in social enterprises and the local employees, leaving a lasting impact on both the guests and the community.

The restaurant, farm, shops, and guest houses on the property featured local artisans and craftsmen as well, providing each guest the opportunity to interact with and support entrepreneurs of all kinds. From organic wines and fresh produce to fragrances and natural body care products, our client’s guests encountered unique discoveries during their excursion.

Sustainable Event Planning for Your Next Corporate Incentive Trip

Socially responsible incentive travel and sustainable event planning unlock a triple win: a win for your company, a win for your participants, and a win for the community welcoming your event. Now more than ever, you have an opportunity to make incentive experiences more meaningful, while doubling down on your bottom line.

If you are looking for the roadmap to give your winners the “wow factor” they’ve been craving while weaving in your organizational values, reach out to Achieve today. Our expert team of event leaders offers personalized guidance on reimagining incentive contests and events to drive motivation, leaving a lasting impression and impact.