Jo Kelly, events operation director at CR Worldwide - a company that builds incentive and event programs - explains how corporate social responsibility is becoming an intrinsic part of incentive travel.
As an effective rewards and incentives business tool, incentive travel enables a company to give its employees an experience they won’t forget, with the aim of motivating and incentivising them to perform better.
Focused on providing high-quality and memorable activities, experiences have historically concentrated on making employees feel special, valued and appreciated. And, over the years, activities have become more luxurious, elaborate and unique, as companies do their utmost to engage their employees. A private VIP booth in a world-renowned nightclub in London, with champagne on tap, for instance, is replaced with a champagne reception on a luxury yacht, island hopping across the Elaphites, off the coast of Dubrovnik.
While businesses still provide luxury trips for their teams, another option is becoming more popular – stepping away from luxury and instead focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
With these CSR-focused trips, gone are the luxurious activities and experiences that an employee might expect. In their place is an ethically-focused itinerary, often linked with nature and the environment.
Incorporating an element of volunteering is a popular choice for employers – and the opportunities are becoming increasingly far reaching. Your trip might involve solar projects, tree planting and gardening with chocolate farmers in Belize. They could see employees experiencing rhino notching on safari in South Africa, offering them the chance to help park vets notch, implant and tag rhinoceroses to help conserve and identify them.
Why are companies choosing to provide CSR-focused trips for their employees over traditional destinations?
These trips offer the wow factor in providing an unforgettable experience. But they also aim to offer something completely different that you can’t put a price on, which employees probably wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to experience. They are incredible, profound experiences. And from the employee’s point of view, this helps emphasise the value that the employer places on them.
CSR-focused trips also take people out of ordinary life, out of their comfort zone, and into a world they’re not familiar with. They go back to nature, put employees in astonishing environments, and strip away the everyday comforts they’re used to. In doing this, they don’t just incentivise and inspire, but provide opportunities for self-reflection and self-discovery. As a result, a CSR trip can be life changing for an employee. For example, it might encourage them to do more to help protect endangered species, like support a wildlife charity. All the while, their loyalty with their employer and the company they work for – which gave them that life-changing experience – is reaffirmed and strengthened.
As ethical companies grow in numbers, while media messages around helping nature and the environment continually fill the news, the trend of CSR trips will undoubtedly grow. It will be interesting to see where incentive travel goes next, and what trips will develop for businesses to reward employees and keep them engaged in the years to come.