Where should you send your top-performing salespeople next year? The hottest incentive destinations of 2018 are places that offer unique, immersive experiences. People no longer want the standard hotel vacation, they want the opportunity to learn, dive into a new culture, try local cuisine and get involved with ecotourism initiatives.
The destinations you offer have to provide that once-in-a-lifetime experience to top performers for achieving your company's business goals. Your delegates will likely be well-travelled, and may even have visited the destination you're sending them to before, so you really need to ensure their experience blows them away.
The cievents team constantly have their fingers on the pulse of international incentive travel trends and have scoured the globe to find you the best incentive destinations for 2018.
"Trolltunga", the "Troll's Tongue", situated 1,100 metres above sea level and accessible only after hiking for 10-12 hours through the mountains.
Why it's hot
Norway's Nordic neighbours Denmark, Finland and Sweden have received a lot of attention in recent years, but in 2018 Norway steps into the limelight. With its Viking past, innovative architecture and fjords in abundance, Norway presents the perfect blend of history, urban delight and natural wonder.
Oslo, the Norwegian capital, was ranked #10 on Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2018. The country will be celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of its King and Queen next year, while the Oslo Opera House will also celebrate its 10th birthday, so there'll be plenty of concerts and events happening throughout the year.
Norway is a Schengen State, so if your delegates are travelling on non-European passports, you'll need to arrange a Schengen Visa.
Norway incentive travel ideas
Norway is one of a handful of destinations where it's possible view the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. Witnessing this natural phenomenon is an experience no one is likely to forget in a hurry.
Norway is a unique incentive destination offering a range of one-of-a-kind travel experiences. You can let your star performers:
- Stand on top of the world at Pulpit Rock or the Troll's Tongue.
- Taste some trendy new Nordic cuisine at one of Oslo's fashionable restaurants.
- Dog sled beneath the magical Northern Lights.
- Ride the world's most spectacular train journey, the Flåmsbana.
- Try their hand at making caviar and traditional fishcakes in the Lofoten Islands.
The Mexican city of Guanajuato was ranked #9 on leading travel publisher Lonely Planet's list of the Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2018, making it a hot incentive travel destination for your team.
Why it's hot
Mexico is being rated as a trending destination left, right and centre. Guanajuato was featured in Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2018, San Miguel de Allende took out the #1 spot in Travel+Leisure's top urban destinations for 2017, and Baja California was selected both as one of National Geographic's Best Trips for 2017 and Lonely Planet's Best Value Destinations for 2018.
If Norway offers the ideal winter travel incentive experience, Mexico is surely its summer counterpart. With its colourful architecture, delectable cuisine and friendly locals, this country is one where visitors can wander at their leisure.
Some delegates may require visas to enter Mexico, and all tourists are required to have a government-issued tourist permit, which is obtainable upon entry.
Mexico incentive travel ideas
No incentive trip to Mexico is complete without sampling some of the delicious food this country has to offer.
Want some inspiration for where to send your top-performing salespeople in Mexico? Here are a few ideas of things to include in an itinerary:
- Tasting Mezcal at a hole-in-the-wall bar with the crowds of university students in Guanajuato.
- Enjoying rooftop views of San Migeul de Allende from the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende's Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar.
- Seeing the streets come to life on the Day of the Dead ("Día de Muertos") on November 1st.
- Sampling local food in Mexico City - carnitas, tamales, tortillas and tacos.
Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie concert hall was recently opened and has added a touch of sophistication to the city's port area.
Why it's hot
Germany is another country that will see visitors flocking to its cities and countryside in 2018. Hamburg, which recently opened the completed €790 million Elbphilharmonie concert hall, was featured in National Geographic's Best Trips for 2017 and ranked #4 in Lonely Planet's list of Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2018.
The capital Berlin is also an excellent choice, particularly, Conde Nast Traveller suggests, if you want to appeal to millennial travellers. Abandoned buildings transform into pumping nightclubs once the sun goes down, and there's also no shortage of history, street art and museums for those wanting a more cultural experience.
A Schengen Visa is required for travel to Germany if delegates are travelling on non-European passports. Event and meeting planners are also eligible to receive VAT refunds for events held in Germany.
Germany incentive travel ideas
From fascinating museums to quirky architecture, historical monuments to happening nightclubs - Berlin offers something to suit everyone's taste.
It can be easy to opt for the standard tourist attractions like the Berlin Wall, and Brandenburg Gate. But the real purpose of incentive travel is to provide an experience that cannot be replicated. Here's some travel incentive inspiration:
- Organise a trip to the Ritter Sport chocolate factory in Berlin, where delegates can craft their own chocolate.
- Include a night out crawling through Hamburg's delightful bars and music venues.
- Incorporate day trips to neighbouring countries. Musical Salzburg, fairytale-esque Ceský Krumlov and luxurious Luxembourg all lie close to the German border.
4. South Korea
Tasting some South Korean food is a must, but to give your delegates an authentic experience, swap Western-style restaurants for street food stalls.
Why it's hot
The eyes of the world will be on South Korea in 2018 as it plays host to the Winter Olympics. The country was #2 on Lonely Planet's Top Countries to Visit in 2018, while the capital Seoul made National Geographic's Best Trips of 2017.
South Korea offers up unique culinary experiences, hot nightlife, and an excellent fusion of futuristic and traditional architecture, so everyone will have plenty to keep them occupied.
Visa-free entry to South Korea is granted through a visa waiver program to citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and several other countries.
South Korea travel incentive ideas
South Korea's capital Seoul is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, the perfect highlight of your next incentive trip.
How can you wow your star performers on an incentive trip to South Korea? Here are a few suggestions:
- Include a trip to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates South Korea from North Korea.
- Nab tickets to the Winter Olympics, then give delegates the chance to hit the slopes themselves at ski resorts Alpensia and Yongpyong.
- Incorporate a street food tour into the itinerary so everyone can sample delicacies such as spicy rice cakes and fried chicken.
- Juxtapose the old and the new in Seoul with a visit to Bukchon Hanok Village, home to over 900 traditional Korean homes and guesthouses that overlook the skyscrapers of the capital.
It's jaw-dropping views like this that make Hawaii a standout filming location and travel incentive destination.
Why it's hot
We don't think Hawaii has ever not been hot. Offering up spectacular beauty, adventure and gorgeous beaches, Hawaii is a destination anyone will love, whether they want to spend their time hiking off the beaten track or soaking up the sun.
The big names in travel are also rating Hawaii as a travel destination for 2018. Kauai was recommended by National Geographic, Honolulu is featured by Conde Nast Traveller, while both Kauai and Maui were included in Travel+Leisure's Top Islands of 2017.
Visitors to Hawaii will either require a US visa or ESTA (if the country that issued the passport falls under the Visa Waiver Program).
Hawaii incentive travel ideas
Hawaii allows visitors to be as active or relaxed as they want to be.
Hawaii offers so many fantastic activities you can include on an incentive trip itinerary, such as:
- Enlist a guide to accompany interested delegates on an off-the-beaten-path hike through some of Hawaii's pristine landscapes.
- Include a surfing lesson with local wave riders.
- Incorporate some once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as shark diving or a submarine scooter adventure.
- Give back by offering a conservation project with an environmental organisation such as the Hawaii Wildlife Fund as an optional activity.
Ireland's capital Dublin offers up bountiful nightlife, culture and history and is a particularly appealing destination for millennial travellers.
Why it's hot
Northern Ireland may feature in Lonely Planet's Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2018, but our prediction is that the Republic of Ireland will be even hotter. The new Star Wars flick will be released in December and the opening scenes were filmed in County Kerry in Ireland's south-west.
Packed with plenty of live music (Galway), postcard scenery (Wicklow Mountains National Park) and history galore (Dublin), Ireland is a destination that delights every time. Even if your delegates have visited the Emerald Isle before, there are always new experiences to be had.
Passport-holders of some countries will require visas to enter Ireland, but visa-free travel is available to citizens of Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US, Canada and many European countries. As a member of the European Union, Ireland also offers VAT refunds for event planners.
Ireland incentive travel ideas
The opening scenes of Star Wars: Episode VIII were filmed in Ireland's County Kerry, a region of rugged natural beauty.
For some incentive travel inspiration, consider these options:
- Swap the cities of Dublin, Galway and Cork for bed and breakfast stays in small towns. Ireland's southern coast has plenty, from delightful Kinsale, historic Cobh and tiny Ardmore, which even features a Michelin-star restaurant.
- Include a Gaelic lesson with locals to teach delegates the basics of Ireland's native tongue.
- Give your delegates the option of renting a bike and riding past the gorgeous stone walls and the MV Plassy shipwreck on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands.
Need help planning your incentive trip?
The cievents team has decades of experience organising incentive trips for companies large and small all over the globe. We're experts in corporate incentives, rewards and recognition and on the front foot when it comes to choosing places that will reward your top salespeople with a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Reach out today to start organising your next incentive trip, or to get some more incentive travel inspiration.