We recently posted Building Incentives for Millennials by Top Banana’s Elliott Grant, a 15 year veteran of the incentive industry. He reveals what millennials want when it comes to motivation and the co-chairs of The SITE Young Leaders Conference, Heidi Goettemoeller, senior event manager, One10 marketing and Caoimhe Rice of the Maloney & Kelly, a DMC in Ireland, respond to Grant’s Theories.

Grant: “Creating incentive travel programs that appeal to all generations is essential, but with millennials set to make up half of the global workforce by 2020, focusing specifically on their preferences will help engage a high majority of your workforce and strengthen your incentive strategy. So, the big question is, what do millennials look for in an incentive program?” 

HG: A five-star experience today means more than extravagant amenities, it focuses on the entire experience and high-end service; this is the difference. Beyond the generational variances, people of all ages are looking for the experiences that bring them closer to the world around them. This may be with unique destinations or “local” restaurants, but it is also of supreme importance to find genuine locals and engaging personalities to facilitate that. The five-star experience today is much more focused on service and experience than on which amenities are stocked in the room.

CR: This generation is looking for the authentic – so whatever correlates to that in each destination still with five-star luxury in mind. It can be seen clearly in the decline of golf in favor of yoga (for example) – exemplary service and facilities are still expected but with a more destination led and authentic experience. This generation appreciates locally sourced food, destination centered design, integrated wellness programs and sustainability efforts in reducing plastics, etc. Similar standards are expected but there is a definite distinction between extreme extravagance and sustainable luxury, which is key to keep in mind for millennial incentive travel. 

Grant: “In a recent survey 61% of UK events professionals have seen an increase in the importance of CSR in the events industry over the past 12 months, with millennials being a driving force of this as 87% of them agree that CSR enhances delegate engagement at an event.”

HG: It is obvious that as advances in technology and communication become more well-spread across the globe that we all become better connected to our neighbors in other geographic regions. With this comes an influx of information and greater awareness of those opportunities to help other areas and persons, and a greater desire to help. We are certainly seeing a rise in CSR and it is inspiring to be a part of this movement as we all work together to better the world around us.

CR: As the gatekeepers of the future, millennials feel a responsibility to give back in meaningful ways. They don’t want to take part in CSR activities purely for public relations reasons but strongly feel a duty to the environment and local communities to leave a lasting impact. This is all part of the authentic experience that this generation is looking for. They are grateful for the luxurious trip they have received however the CSR and sustainability should come incorporated within that experience. In the future, this will not be an addition or enhancement to incentive programs but as we are starting to see already; will be built into every RFP as standard – putting the pressure on suppliers to make sure incentive travel experiences incorporate CSR in each destination visited.  

Grant: “Wellness tourism became one of the fastest growing segments of global travel trends last year and millennials were definitely a driving force behind it.”

HG: We always look to create new ideas and new program outlines in order to inspire our guests, and doing so in order to promote peak health and performance is one of the most rewarding challenges we face. Some of these changes can be as simple as incorporating a tour by bike rather than by ground transfer or doing a morning disco to get the day started rather than a rushed coffee break. In addition to the interest in adding fitness and wellness-based activities, we are looking to recreate menus and offer more creative healthy options beyond the tired salad bar.

CR: In an “always on” world, millennials spend the majority of their day online and connected. They are a generation of digital natives; who have grown up with the world in their pocket but can still remember a time when internet was dial up – this creates a longing for them to return an offline space to disconnect and therefore are the driving force behind wellness tourism. They are looking for that digital detox which we need to incorporate into our incentive travel trips. So when we arrange for a hike up a mountain with a stunning gourmet picnic laid out at the peak – yes; they will take a photo to post on Instagram for later on but they do also appreciate the nature and beauty around them and to make a conscious decision to be present in the moment – it’s about striking the perfect balance between both.