In today’s fast-paced corporate world, the importance of team cohesion, motivation, and employee satisfaction cannot be overstated. While traditional bonuses and promotions are effective motivators, there’s something uniquely compelling about incentive trips that offer experiences of a lifetime. According to an International Society for Performance Improvement Study, incentive programmes can increase an individual’s performance by up to 22% and a team’s performance by up to 44%.

After all, incentive trips not only serve as a reward but also as an investment in your team’s well-being, unity, and productivity. Imagine the impact of trekking with gorillas in Rwanda, witnessing the Northern Lights in Iceland, or reveling in Sweden’s snow-swept natural beauty on your team’s morale and cohesion. These aren’t just vacations; they’re transformative experiences that enrich the soul, broaden the mind, and drive performance.

But where to go and what to expect? In this blog, we’ll take you through our top three most successful incentive trips to Rwanda, Iceland, and Sweden, each offering a unique blend of adventure, luxury, and forever memories.

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Rwanda: A gorilla trekking adventure of a lifetime

Nature-based tourism generates 80% of Rwanda’s tourist revenue – and once you’ve been gorilla trekking, it’s easy to understand why. Often described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, gorilla trekking is most definitely a bucket list-worthy African adventure.

In 2021, our Incentives team took a small corporate group to The Land of a Thousand Hills. Starting in the transformed capital city of Kigali, their journey led them to the iconic Volcanoes National Park that many endangered mountain gorillas call home.

According to the guests, the scenic drive to Amakoro Songa Lodge was a visual feast, offering glimpses into the lives of Rwanda’s warm and welcoming locals. Nestled on the park’s edge, the lodge provided a comfortable retreat. The next day, equipped with breakfast, snacks, and insect-repelling leg coverings called ‘gators’, they ventured to the park entrance to meet their ranger guides.

Divided into smaller groups, each assigned a gorilla family, the trek was rigorous, especially given recent rains and the altitude climb to 2,700 meters. But the moment the team reached the gorillas, fatigue faded. The rangers, with their deep knowledge, guided them through the magical encounter, emphasizing the importance of following their instructions, especially with the impressive 250-kilogram male Silverback present.

After an awe-inspiring hour in the rainforest, the groups returned to Amakoro Songa Lodge, where leg massages, Virunga beers, and a delicious lunch awaited. As the day unfolded, guests gathered around the firepit, sharing their unforgettable experiences over glasses of red wine.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda surpassed all expectations and offered an out-of-the-box adventure that Team GILTEDGE wholeheartedly recommends for those seeking a unique and unforgettable holiday experience. This incentive trip was a testament to Rwanda’s conservation-focused tourism and the incredible allure of its natural wonders.

Iceland: The Land of Ice and Fire

Iceland, known as The Land of Ice and Fire, is a must-see destination. We were thrilled to plan an incentive trip to this unique island in 2022, beginning with breathtaking views of frozen glaciers when landing in Reykjavik. From the start, Iceland’s distinct identity and captivating landscapes set the stage for a journey outside all the guests’ comfort zones.

Reykjavik, the charming capital, welcomed everyone with its compact layout, numerous bars, and restaurants offering local specialties like fermented shark, puffin, and minke whale. Our group embarked on a culinary adventure guided by a local expert, creating memorable and occasionally challenging tastings.

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A visit to the Blue Lagoon, with its milky-blue waters surrounded by black-rock lava fields, offered a rejuvenating experience. The new Retreat Spa and the Sky Lagoon, an oceanside geothermal retreat, elevated the guests’ relaxation with stunning views of the North Atlantic and the possibility of witnessing the Northern Lights.

Exploring Iceland’s countryside was also an exhilarating experience, made even more exciting by traveling in giant super-trucks designed for those unique conditions. Highlights included the Golden Circle, encompassing Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring area, and Langjökull Glacier, where snowmobile adventures awaited.

Reykjavik’s nightlife, surprisingly vibrant for such a small population, offered a taste of local culture. And for those intent on witnessing the Northern Lights, visiting between October and March provides a chance to catch sight of this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.

While Iceland may pose logistical challenges for South African corporates, the adventure, unique experiences, and breathtaking landscapes make it a destination worth considering for incentive trips. Take the leap, bring your team, and embark on this extraordinary adventure—you won’t be disappointed! Iceland’s mystique and natural beauty are bound to leave an indelible mark on your team’s memories.

Sweden: An icy wonderland

In the northernmost reaches of Sweden, right before the onset of the pandemic in 2020, our incentive team ventured to the enchanting and aptly named Icehotel, a remarkable lodging entirely crafted from ice. Nestled in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi within the glacial Kiruna Municipality, this year-round winter sanctuary was truly captivating.

The Icehotel’s origins are a tale of happenstance. Before Jukkasjärvi’s long winters became a tourist hotspot, visitors flocked for summer activities like fishing and rafting. However, visionary founder Yngve Bergqvist decided to transform the village into a winter destination. Inspired by a trip to Japan’s winter festival, he invited ice sculptors to host an art workshop. Thus, the Arctic Hall, an igloo showcasing ice art, was born. The first guests, unable to secure cabins, became the inaugural patrons of the now-famous Icehotel.

The Torne River freezes each November, heralding the hotel’s annual rebirth. Approximately 40 international artists are invited to craft innovative room designs within six weeks. The hotel operates year-round thanks to solar panels, maintaining its icy charm even in summer.

The Icehotel’s unique design encompasses both warm and cold sections. The cold side comprises rooms carved entirely from ice, including the art suites – interior masterpieces sculpted by talented artists. The warm side offers year-round accommodation, while the Icehotel 365’s deluxe suites blend warmth and ice, preserved by solar technology.

During the guests’ stay, they experienced an ice sculpting competition, carving intricate creations from the same river ice used to construct the hotel. The winning sculptures, displayed at dinner venues, transformed each evening into ever-evolving masterpieces.

Sweden’s stunning natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights, graced the group with a breathtaking display, and then it was on to the team’s Swedish Lapland adventure. They embarked on thrilling activities, including cross-country skiing and a heart-pounding snowmobile safari.

They also discovered the Swedish sauna tradition, indulging in a 10-step sauna ritual that left them physically and mentally rejuvenated. To top it all off? A wilderness dinner under the starry sky, featuring local cuisine and fine wines.

As you can see, incentive trips are a catalyst for team building, a testament to your company’s values, and a powerful motivator for future performance. Our journeys to Rwanda, Iceland, and Sweden have demonstrated that the right experiences can transcend mere enjoyment to offer profound, life-changing impacts.

Interested in incentive travel for your team? Contact GILTEDGE for guidance today.