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Intelligence / 3.5.18

Best Practices When Working with Corporate Procurement on Incentive Travel

By SITE Foundation

Educate. Collaborate. Measure.

By: Philip Eidsvold, CIS, Sr. Director Client Services, One10 Marketing and SITE President Elect

Over the last 10 years, there has been a noticeable rise in procurement’s role and influence in purchasing meeting and incentive travel services. This trend is largely due to many large organizations refining their Strategic Meetings Management programs to include incentive travel, not just traditional meetings.

The more you can stay ahead with procurement, the more successful you will be in securing the business. Here are some best practices we follow when working with corporate procurement.


In our initial discussions with procurement, we always start with explaining that incentive travel is a business tool proven to increase sales and profits, boost productivity, retain top talent, increase company loyalty, promote teamwork and decrease turnover. When properly designed, planned and executed, incentive travel programs should be able to be funded through the additional profits, productivity or service levels that the program is designed to achieve.

There are major differences in the planning of meetings versus incentives, so it is important to make sure that procurement understands the objectives of an incentive travel program and how they differ from those of a meeting.

A meeting is typically organized to educate, to plan, to bring people together in a working environment, so different factors are taken into account in the planning and purchasing process. Incentive participants are rewarded with the travel award due to their performance; therefore, the experience needs to be meaningful to each individual guest. When planning an incentive program, it is important to take into account what will be memorable to the participants, and how they can be made to feel special and motivated to succeed for the coming year.


Many procurement professionals see the world through the lens of cost savings, profit maximization and compliance, so be sure to educate them on the entire incentive program lifecycle. Inform them about the eligibility period and what the winners need to achieve in order to earn the travel award. We have found that when procurement professionals understand that the goals of the incentive program are to boost sales or drive superior service, they are more than willing to partner on finding the best solution.

Procurement professionals are deeply rooted in data, so we try to provide as much relevant research and proof points as possible in order to build the business case for incentive travel. The SITE Foundation offers a wealth of valuable research and content that you can reference in your discussions. Again, being proactive and sharing information and data with your procurement team empowers their decision-making and is a great way to build credibility and trust.


Finally, we always work with our clients and their procurement teams on developing a measurement strategy that will demonstrate a return on their incentive program investment. The best results are achieved when procurement has input into both the qualitative and quantitative program metrics.

When designing a survey, it is important to ask questions that demonstrate how the incentive program impacted participants’ behaviors. Rather than just asking about the destination or experiences, include questions around what made the program meaningful, motivational and memorable to the participant who worked hard to earn the award. Once a good survey is developed, we recommend asking the same or comparable questions year-over-year so that metrics are developed to demonstrate trends in participant’s responses.  These valuable metrics should then be leveraged to design an optimal program for the following year.

Helping your procurement contacts understand the objectives of an incentive program, how they align with a company’s overall business strategy and defining what will motivate participants will go a long way in procurement’s justification of the expenditures and will greatly improve your ability to secure the business.


Bio: Philip Eidsvold is Sr. Director of Client Services at One10 Marketing where he works with key accounts in the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Healthcare sectors.  A 19-year veteran in the Meetings and Incentives industry, Philip has been on the SITE International Board of Directors since 2013 and will be President of the International Board in 2019.  Philip lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

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