What are Travel Incentive Programs?

Lainie Petersen

Travel incentive programs are used by businesses to reward customers, potential customers, and employees with free or reduced-cost travel. Typically, travel incentive programs involve the purchase of travel certificates from a third-party travel agency that are then awarded to the customer or employee. These certificates can be redeemed for full vacations, hotel rooms, or transportation. In some cases, the recipient must pay certain costs or meet certain restrictions prior to making use of the travel certificate. The more valuable travel incentive rewards typically have few restrictions, and recipients typically do not have to pay any additional fees.

Employees who have accomplished certain goals are often rewarded with a free trip.
Employees who have accomplished certain goals are often rewarded with a free trip.

Many companies want to reward their employees who meet certain goals with free trips and vacations. Since many of these businesses are not travel related, they are not set up to arrange for vacations. However, there are many travel companies that specialize in offering travel incentive programs in which the employer purchases a travel certificate that the employee can exchange for travel. The employee can make all the arrangements with the travel company that provides the certificates. This type of employee motivation program reduces hassle for the employer while providing the employee with quality travel incentives.

Travel incentive programs may include discounts on hotel stays.
Travel incentive programs may include discounts on hotel stays.

Similar programs exist for companies that wish to offer customer rewards programs or wish to attract new customers. Travel incentive programs designed to provide customer rewards may allow customers to choose a variety of travel offerings depending on the amount of business they do with the company in a given year. Some companies that sell high-ticket items may offer travel incentive programs to potential customers, giving individuals and families an award for visiting the company's showroom or office or sitting through a presentation. For example, many vacation timeshare companies entice prospects with the offer of a travel certificate regardless of whether the prospect actually purchases a timeshare.

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Some travel incentive programs offer completely prepaid travel that the recipient can redeem at any time with few or no restrictions. These travel certificates generally cost the purchaser more then certificates that require recipients to pay part of the cost of travel or that sharply restrict the usability of the certificate. The advantage to using these higher-cost certificates is that the employee or customer is more likely to use the certificate, which increases its value to the recipient and encourages loyalty to the business that provides the travel reward. Many people find that the lower-cost certificates that impose significant fees or restrictions are considered worthless by recipients and are not effective in motivating job performance or customer purchases.

Travel incentives include discounted or free airfare.
Travel incentives include discounted or free airfare.

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Discussion Comments


Most people wouldn't think of a construction company and a travel incentive program in the same sentence, but the company I work for does this.

I work in the office of a construction company, and over the years they have used a variety of safety incentive programs for the employees.

Safety is a big concern for the company and their crews, and they are always trying to reward everyone in the entire company for completing a quarter without any accidents.

Because they realized that a lot of people are motivated by travel and trips, this has been the most popular program they have tried.

Not only does it remind everyone to be safety conscious, but also helps keep company morale high. The company is able to write off the travel so it really turns out to be a good deal for everyone.


My husband works for a company that is very fitness oriented. They also have a great benefit package and reward their employees and spouses by staying healthy and fit.

There is a fitness center on site and for every type of activity you complete, you earn travel incentive points.

My husband and I have been able to earn more than one free trip with our incentive points. We get to choose where we go, and it really keeps us motivated to stay in shape.

Not everyone participates in this program, but the majority of their employees do. This also means they have very low health insurance premiums because most employees stay so healthy. Over the years their wellness incentive programs have really paid off.

I see this as a win-win situation for everyone involved. Not only do I get to stay in shape, but get rewarded for it as well.


My company has some great incentive programs for employees, including giving us free airfare vouchers as a performance bonus. I think that company incentive programs work really well because it keeps your eye on the prize. While making money is important, I think it is those little extra bonuses that really make your job worthwhile.

Another thing my company offers is hotel vouchers which are great for when you want to get away for a weekend. It is nice getting rewarded for keeping our customers satisfied. I suppose the only thing I wish we had were incentives completing overtime work. It would be great to get stuff for staying longer than need be.


@wander - If you are looking for a good rewards incentive program that focuses on airfare and travel rewards I would suggest getting a high-end credit card that offers reward points. I have a platinum credit card from my bank that gives me access to airport lounges, free upgrades and free travel with my points. I find that because I use my card for everything that I earn rewards a lot faster.

You should contact your bank and see if you can get into on of their incentive programs. You would be surprised at what perks you can get just from using a certain bank or having their credit card.


Can anyone recommend some good loyalty incentive programs that offer travel vouchers or upgrades?

Right now I have a typical airline miles card and it is taking forever to get anything for free. I really want a free upgrade but at this rate it is going to take me a couple of years before I ever seen business class.

I know there are a lot of travel incentive companies out there but sifting through them all is a bit of a pain. I just want something that rewards me more quickly and helps make my vacations more pleasant and economical.

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