How do you know what really motivates producers unless you dig deep? And how do you choose a destination that will strongly appeal to many, if not all, to satisfy your sales goals?

That's what Tourism Australia wanted to find out, knowing that while Australia has incredible appeal to Americans, it doesn't always make the cut. Last year, TA commissioned an online survey of end users, 537 U.S. residents who were eligible for, or had recently received, an incentive award.

While TA commissioned the survey — and drilled down into qualifiers' psyches about its destination's potential as a motivational tool — the results reveal quite a bit about international incentive destinations.

Cash and international travel are the most motivating incentives for employees in the financial and insurance industries, which are also among those business sectors that most often use incentive travel as a motivator.

After an international trip, an international cruise is the most popular selection. International trips appeal most to younger respondents and those in the financial and insurance sectors.

Participants were asked where they most wanted to go on vacation and what would be most motivating as an incentive destination. Here are some takeaways:

  • Australia is the most motivating destination, both for general travel and as an incentive destination. Other top choices are Italy, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

  • Australia and Italy (the second most appealing incentive destination) are among the least visited, in general or as part of an incentive. One conclusion: The destinations least visited and hardest to reach on one's own are very appealing as incentive destinations.

  • Hawaii and the Caribbean are also popular but at lower levels of enthusiasm, while China is a niche destination — strongly appealing to a few.

  • Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are the leading international destinations visited. A significant two-fifths of respondents have already visited Hawaii.

  • Europe is home to seven of the top 10 destinations in the open-ended question about where respondents would most like to visit.

  • China and Tahiti are the only other destinations outside Europe (besides Australia) to make the top 10.

  • European destinations are strong motivators for potential qualifiers in the financial and insurance sectors.

The Incentive Experience

Respondents rated 11 incentive program activities from “very interested” to “not at all interested.”

  • Looking at scenery, especially beaches, is the most popular activity.

  • Beaches appeal more to the younger generation; historical and cultural experiences to older qualifiers.

  • Spas and massages are the second-most-popular activity — more popular with women.

  • The food and wine experience is also very attractive.

  • Meeting locals is popular, especially with younger respondents and men.

  • Golf is more attractive to men, especially younger men and those who work in large companies and in finance. In fact, including golf on the program can often make the incentive unappealing to women.

  • The most desirable bonus in an incentive package is a day to do your own thing.