Inspiring Millennials Through Incentive Travel
by Moira Sherman
What Motivates Millennials?
In today's workforce, we see an unprecedented generational mix working side by side. How do managers and business leaders take into account what motivates different generations of employees? Millennials (youth born in the 80s and early 90s) are the most recent generation to join the workforce and they now dominate the work environment, having surpassed baby boomers in the workforce population over the last 5 years.
This generation unquestionably loves online engagement and their smartphones. But despite constant online connectedness, life experiences are something they value highly and pay close attention to. Most of us are now aware of the “experience economy”, with consumers (in particular, this generation) increasingly opting to indulge in memorable experiences in favor of investing in luxury items. When factoring in the following, it is clear that travel is an extremely strong motivator for this particular segment of the workforce. According to a Business Insider report:
- 78% would rather spend money on an experience than a thing
- 77% say their best memories come from experiences
- 72% want to increase their spending on experiences
- 69% say experiences make them feel more connected to the world
Millennials are the most open-minded and culturally aware generation today. They have a true sense of global connectedness, a natural curiosity and wonder about the world. This generation places high value on being unique and individuals long to grow their identities through rich, new experiences that are sharable via social media channels. Travel fulfills this need and business leaders can leverage this through incentive trips to increase sales, motivate their teams, optimize and reward performance.
Travel Preferences in Millennials
When planning corporate events involving travel and incentive programs, considering Millennials' preferences and how they perceive travel is more important than ever. They are after all the fastest growing travel segment and the most influential group of travelers in the world.
Some key travel characteristics, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission , Millennials:
often spend more in destinations than other tourists because they travel for longer periods.
travel more frequently and further than other age groups.
are likely to return to the destination over their lifetime.
are pioneer travelers who discover and promote destinations not yet visited by traditional tourists.
play an important role in the tourism landscape and image of destinations.
are instigators of travel trends and thrive on influencing others.
are at the cutting edge of technology and are more connected than any other age group making them more likely to use technology to make recommendations.
value travel as an essential aspect of their lives.
Creating Meaningful Incentive Travel Programs
These travelers want to create meaningful connections with the local communities they visit and the people they travel with, which is why group travel is so important. Many companies are using corporate travel rewards to strengthen bonds among employees and to help them feel a sense of company pride. Participants are seeking more personal experiences indigenous to the program destination, as well as socially responsible activities that may allow them to give back to the host community. Travel preferences often include an element of corporate social responsibility and holistic wellness which can be incorporated into planned programs. Attendees can explore the chosen destination by bike or guides can be provided to walk routes to event venues that are within reasonable walking distance. This trend combines wellness with a smaller carbon footprint overall. Hotel chains such as Kimpton Hotels have introduced complimentary and stylish bike rentals and provide yoga mats in every room as part of their wellness culture in all destinations.
Millennial travelers look for inspiring, unique experiences. Food is a significant driver of travel with destinations often being centered around foodie experiences such as cooking classes with wine pairing in the Italian countryside or a market walking tour in Barcelona with GPS-enabled app guides. There is also the trend towards adding educational elements to programs through activities such as learning the coffee production process in Costa Rica or a tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, complete with pint pulling lessons. Millennials aspire to see the natural beauty of the world, they have a thirst for adventure and for putting themselves out of their comfort zone. Inspiring events in beautiful settings can strengthen a team's creativity and spark problem solving thought processes and innovation. It isn’t just about visiting the traditional sights anymore, although that is still important. Hands on, immersive experiences are key when planning a travel program for this group.
More than ever before, companies need to ensure they are offering reward experiences that specifically target and excite this sector of the workforce. These travelers are different from their predecessors, they have a higher demand for customization, culturally diverse and highly enriching experiences as well as more unique adventure activities. Millennials are not looking for the usual tried and tested programs - they want to be challenged with the unknown. It is important for leaders and planners to uncover Millennials' distinctive desires in order to engage them in a way that speaks to them personally and creates a lasting impression. Keeping this generation in the workforce engaged requires creativity and flexibility - travel is one of the best ways to reward top performers as well as seeing a lucrative return on investment.