1. With individual incentives, the uniqueness of a group experience is lost.
True, it has long been a tenet of group incentive travel that guests have an experience they could not duplicate themselves, filled with dramatic events and surprises.

But, while this may not be possible with an individual program, it’s still possible to retain two other major features of group incentives: a feeling of specialness through concierge-level, high-touch service, and a direct connection to the corporate sponsor, which can be achieved via the personal messaging on all the print materials and gifts the winner receives.

2. People like to travel together and be recognized.

True, the importance of recognition in front of peers and loved ones is undeniable.

But, when seven out of 10 households have both partners working, it is difficult for both people to get their schedules to match up. And with so many parents feeling guilty about the shortage of family time, they want to take their children with them. All of these factors carry more weight than they used to.

3. Individual travel will never replace group travel.
True, it will not, because it was never intended to. It is at a completely different price point and fulfills a completely different objective.

But, during the recession, when highly visible, world-class incentive trips were slashed, individual travel filled the void. Many of the winners found that they liked going when and where they chose.

4. You can’t be sure of service levels on an individual trip.
True, it’s easier to control and monitor service levels when on site with a group.

But, you can rely on a partner company with expertise in individual incentives to ensure that service levels are incentive-class.

5. Winners can easily price their individual travel awards and know what they’re worth.
True, that’s not possible with a group travel award.

But, over the past three years, most people have seen friends laid off, have endured stagnant or reduced earnings, have seen their 401K matches disappear, and have been forced to cut back on personal spending. They’re not pricing out their individual incentive trips; they’re appreciative and engaged.

Jim Dittman is president of Dittman Incentive Marketing, New Brunswick, N.J.

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