112% – that’s the return on investment that a well-designed and carefully executed incentive travel programme can produce. That and up to an 18% increase in sales productivity, according to the Incentive Research Foundation.

The key words here? ‘Well-designed’ and ‘carefully executed’.

Not all incentive travel programmes are created equal and not all of them will generate the same results. Sadly, there are plenty of pitfalls that could be standing in your way of getting the most value out of your incentive trips.

The good news is that you can easily avoid these pitfalls with the right knowledge. Below, we outline the most common mistakes in incentive travel planning and offer tips to prevent them.

Mistake #1: Not tailoring experiences to your employees

One-size-fits-all approaches rarely work, and incentive travel is no exception. The most successful trips cater directly to the interests and preferences of your employees. Imagine sending a group of adventure enthusiasts to a luxurious spa retreat – lovely in theory, but unlikely to ignite the excitement you’re hoping for.

Instead of planning every detail of the trip before your top performers are even selected, why not consider empowering your eventual winners to ‘build’ their own incentive trip when the numbers are in? Many companies offer a choice between various options regarding activities. Alternatively, you can pitch categories to them to see what resonates most – food, pampering, adventure, outdoors, educational, etc.

Here at GILTEDGE, we take the time to understand your company culture and employee demographics. Through surveys, discussions, and a dash of creative thinking, we craft a personalised itinerary that appeals to specific groups. Whether it’s a thrilling wildlife safari in Botswana, a whirlwind wine-tasting escape in the Cape Winelands, or a combination of relaxation and adventure in Mauritius, we design an experience that truly motivates, excites, and rejuvenates your high achievers.


Mistake #2: Underestimating the value of downtime

Imagine this: your team arrives in Cape Town, wide-eyed and eager to explore. You’ve packed their itinerary with back-to-back activities – from a sunrise hike up Table Mountain to a gourmet lunch overlooking the Winelands followed by a sunset cruise. Sounds incredible, right? Well, yes… until day three hits and everyone’s feeling a little burnt out.

While exciting activities are a key ingredient in any incentive trip, neglecting to schedule downtime for relaxation and rejuvenation can backfire. After all, a jam-packed schedule leaves little room for spontaneous exploration, personal connections between colleagues, or simply unwinding with a good book on the beach.

The goal should be to ensure your team has plenty of opportunities to create lasting memories and foster stronger bonds and that they return home refreshed and re-energised. You don’t want them feeling as though they need a holiday to recover from their holiday!


Mistake #3: Neglecting to plan for contingencies

You’ve meticulously planned your team’s flights and itinerary – but have you considered the long list of ‘what ifs’? What if bad weather impacts activities? What if there are flight delays? If you don’t have a back-up plan and the right support in place, the stress of dealing with these disruptions can quickly take the wind out of everyone’s sails.

With GILTEDGE’s extensive experience, we can anticipate potential challenges and have solutions at the ready – whether it’s arranging alternative activities or rebooking flights. We work closely with trusted partners on the ground to ensure smooth sailing, even when things don’t go exactly according to plan.


Mistake #4: Forgetting the power of recognition

An incentive trip is a fantastic way to motivate and reward your employees – and its impact can be amplified by incorporating thoughtful recognition throughout the programme. Don’t be so focused on spoiling your high performers for their hard work that you actually forget to acknowledge why they’re on the trip in the first place! Think mini awards ceremonies, handwritten notes highlighting individual strengths, celebratory dinners with personalised speeches, and custom-engraved gifts.


Mistake #5: Going it alone

Planning an incentive trip can be a complex and time-consuming process – from choosing the perfect destination and crafting a compelling itinerary to securing the best rates and navigating logistics.

By partnering with a specialist incentives company, you can free up valuable time and resources to focus on your core business. Ultimately, you want a company that has the expertise, connections, and experience to handle every aspect of your incentive trip, from initial concept to flawless execution.



Here’s a quick recap of the 5 most crucial aspects to consider:

  • Tailored experiences: Craft an itinerary that resonates with the group’s interests and preferences.
  • The power of downtime: Schedule time for relaxation and rejuvenation to prevent burnout.
  • Contingency planning: Be prepared for unexpected events to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
  • Recognition: Incorporate thoughtful recognition throughout the programme to amplify its impact.
  • Partnering with a specialist: Free up time and resources by working with a company like GILTEDGE Incentives, who can handle all aspects of your trip.

Contact the experts at GILTEDGE today for help crafting a seamless incentive travel programme, perfectly tailored to your business and employees. We’ll work closely with you to understand your company’s goals, empowering you to create an impact through travel that strengthens your teams and drives business success.