Perks like performance bonuses and extra paid time off inspire employees to exceed their business goals, but what about an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean?

As companies compete for top talent and look for exciting new ways to motivate and reward their all-star employees, they often turn to incentive events to show gratitude for a job well done. 

How do incentive events work?

Two people relaxing in lounge chairs by pool overlooking the ocean at sunset.

An incentive event is an exclusive trip, excursion, or event employers host to incentivize employees to go above and beyond. The employer sets the parameters in advance and clearly communicates the goals an employee needs to meet to qualify for the recognition program.

Incentive trips can be as simple as a single-day excursion to a theme park or local winery, or as extravagant as a vacation at an all-inclusive resort. The only rule is the incentive trip needs to motivate employees to go the extra mile.  

Nonetheless, if you’re an HR leader, benefits manager, executive assistant, or corporate event planner, keep reading to learn the ins and outs of incentive event planning.

​​Planning a successful incentive event

Create your goals and vision 

As you design your recognition program, make sure to clearly define the goals of your incentive event and what you want attendees to take away. Take advantage of gathering your top performers together and think about how you can create moments to strengthen relationships and encourage cross-department synergies.

Most likely, your incentive event goals will include a mix of:

  • Employee recognition
  • Team building and networking
  • Training and professional development
  • Relaxation and fun! 

Define your budget and technology needs

Person counting cash to spend on his event planning budget

Enlist sponsors to offset costs

Depending on the size of your organization and the scope of your incentive trip, you may need to raise funds to cover expenses. Sponsors provide the perfect solution.

Incentive event sponsors can help by covering the entire expense (best-case scenario), picking up a portion of the tab, offering cost-reducing services like travel or lodging, or providing relevant swag like hiking backpacks or swim flippers.  

Just make sure to clearly communicate how your incentive event will deliver value to potential sponsors. We recommend designing tiered sponsorship packages to make it easy for brands to fully understand your offerings and choose an option to best serve their needs.

How to find and secure event sponsorship: the ultimate guide

Need help securing event sponsors? Check out The ultimate guide to event sponsorship

Use event technology to simplify everything

If you’re planning a large-scale incentive event, complete with meetings and seminars as well as fun activities, consider an event management platform to automate processes, improve communication, house event materials, and ultimately make YOUR life easier.

With an event management platform, you can go completely paperless! Store event agendas, hotel maps, transportation information, and other key documents in the cloud. Plus, easily communicate with your event attendees and sponsors via push notifications, group and one-on-one messaging, and in-platform social media postings.

An event management platform can help you:

For more planning tips: Event management planning strategies: how to execute a flawless event

Make your incentive event fun 

Happy business people sharing private information

Effective incentive events inspire employees to strive for their best, so don’t skimp on the fun. Otherwise, it will feel like a typical corporate event, not an exclusive outing for your elite performers.

Popular examples of fun incentive travel include cruises, ski trips, beach vacations, and hiking adventures. For smaller events, you could offer a day trip to a casino or theme park, purchase box seats or a suite to a professional sporting event, or book a private room at the hottest restaurant in town.

The fun should also translate to any meetings, training, or seminars. Your top employees will all be at the event together, and it’s a perfect time to plan activities to boost morale and inspire your people to learn from each other. Use event gamification, such as trivia and other challenges, to make education sessions fun and competitive. Include a dedicated social wall in your event platform for attendees to post pictures, connect, and engage with your content.

Maximizing fun is important, but be careful to not go overboard and fill every waking minute with activities. Giving attendees time to relax and do their own thing can help them feel refreshed and return from the event feeling even more inspired. 

In-person events are back! Watch our on-demand webinar, The new playbook for in-person events.

Make your incentive event easy

Most importantly, incentive events shouldn’t feel like work for your attendees. As the event planner, make sure all of the details are clearly laid out and easily accessible. Provide travel info and communicate key dates, times, and agendas as soon as possible.

Again, this is where an event management company takes your event to the next level. If you use a mobile event app, you can easily store and update event materials in real time. It ensures attendees always have the most pertinent information at their fingertips, no matter on the beach or the golf course. 

Level up your employee incentive events with Webex Events

Ready to simplify incentive event planning with the events industry’s top-rated event management company and platform? 

Schedule a free demo to see how Webex Events can take your incentive event planning to the next level!

Caitlin Barrett
Caitlin Barrett

Caitlin is a Content Marketing manager at Webex Events (formerly Socio). As a copywriter turned graphic designer turned content marketer, she loves combining engaging content and good design to create best-in-class experiences for brands and their customers.