With all the buzz about how millennials are changing the workplace and shifting planners’ meeting strategies, it comes as no surprise that this generation—defined globally as individuals born between 1981 and 2000—is perhaps the most influential in incentive travel, today. With millennials set to make up half of the global workforce by 2020, designing incentive travel programs for all generations, but with the evolving preferences of millennials in mind, may be a successful and sustainable strategy for many organizations.
Ultimately, the goal of any incentive travel program is to motivate, recognize and reward. However, now, millennials also want to be engaged. This population desires authentic, immersive experiences as well as inspiration to succeed, which is perhaps the most exciting philosophical shift of late.
The image can be seen in five key components of any incentive trip: destination selection, property selection, food and beverage, entertainment and gifts.
To address the millennial generation, American Express Meetings & Events recently released its 2016 Meetings & Events Forecast, which focuses on these five key components of incentive trips and defines this growing class of travellers.
1 | Emerging Destinations & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
When selecting destinations for incentive trips, “sun and fun” type trips are slowly being replaced by trips that involve hard work, either in the form of CSR activities or extreme recreational activities. Incentive planners hoping to cater to a millennial audience can engage attendees with opportunities to explore the local geography and cultures while giving back.
2 | Selecting Properties with a Purpose
It will continue to be important to ensure a property can accommodate your incentive group in terms of rooms and conference space. However, there is a growing expectation that the property will also delight and enrich the attendee. Properties with new themes and amenities are abundant and many have a focus on priorities like connectivity and wellness. Overall, unique and locally-adapted properties are welcomed by millennials.
3 | It All Comes Back to the Food (& Beverage)
Attendees of all ages have developed an expectation of having a local food and wine or a craft beer experience as part of the incentive trip. Heightening the local focus and upping the level of sophistication around food and beverage can be a real winner for incentive events, especially for millennials.
4 | Engage with Interactive Entertainment
It is no surprise that millennials want to be stimulated, inspired, educated and engaged. Additionally, being born into the digital age, millennials are accustomed to immediate gratification and have already seen and shared a lot of the new trends and popular gadgets. This leaves incentive planners with the challenge of trying to impress a worldly, savvy audience.
5 | Gifting, Updated
In the past, brands and labels might have been important to winners but this generation of younger attendees prefers to choose their gifts at an amenity bar, often set up right at check-in. Companies can offer a wide range of choices, including anything from beverages and flowers for the room to custom goodies or on-site experiences.
–Issa Jouaneh is the senior vice-president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events.