In the dynamic landscape of corporate buzzwords like “social impact,” “corporate social responsibility,” and “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 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
Destination events aren’t just about exploring new places; they are a force that can shape communities, economies, and cultures. In the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry, valued at a staggering USD 876.42 billion in 2022, the potential for positive change is immense (Grand View Research).
Socially impactful tourism revolves around three pillars: people, planet, and the economy. It’s about community empowerment, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, education, poverty alleviation, and responsible travel behavior.
It is likely that your company has its own community impact or corporate social responsibility agenda, and it is your responsibility to make decisions in alignment with these 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 for us, this concept of social impact is gaining momentum, reshaping the way we approach incentive travel 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
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?
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.
Eighty percent of luxury travelers want to travel more responsibly, and they place increased value on sustainable and unique travel experiences (Virtuoso). Sustainable tourism factors—exploring new places, having unique experiences, and learning about history and culture—rank as the top destination considerations for future travel plans (Tripadvisor).
The Incentive Research Foundation 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 those looking for unique or “money can’t buy” experiences (IRF).
The Incentive Research Foundation also found that the best way to increase incentive effectiveness is to drive excitement through the destination (IRF). Deepening your connection to your travel destination by weaving together history, culture, and community incentivizes your participants and rewards your bottomline (Solimar International). The IRF 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 (McKinsey). 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 clearly aligns with sustainability policies and values.
In Real Life
Here are some examples of how our team at Achieve Incentives & Meetings has helped our clients leave a positive impact on the people, planet, and economy in their incentive destinations. 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, through 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, through promoting local sourcing:
An effective way to integrate environmentally friendly practices is by sourcing as many event-related items as possible within 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.
This year in Riviera Maya, Mexico, we worked with a client to not only to 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, through fostering entrepreneurship:
For an upcoming client experience in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Achieve is organizing a special cooking class at a locally-led, sustainably-operated, farm-to-table restaurant. This exclusive dining experience will not only immerse guests in the authentic flavors of the locale and the craft of Mexican tortilla-making, but will also invest 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 feature 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 handcrafted clothing and jewelry, to fragrances and natural body care products, our client’s guests will encounter unique discoveries during their excursion.
Socially responsible incentive travel unlocks 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.