Individual Incentive Travel: You Need a Vacation. No, Really!

Individual Incentive Travel: You Need a Vacation. No, Really!

June 23, 2014

Did you know that “an annual vacation can cut a person’s risk of heart attack by 50%,” as The U.S. Travel Association reported this in their paper, “The Benefits Are Everywhere: The Personal Benefits of Travel and Taking a Vacation“?

It turns out that the stresses of the day-to-day are reduced by the effect of just stepping away. There are physical benefits to taking a break. We sleep better, even after our return. Our blood pressure goes down even on a weekend getaway.

Taking a conscious break lowers our stress hormones and increases our sense of well-being.

Writing for in her article “Why Taking Time Off Is Good for Your Brain,” Minda Zetlin makes the case, “A growing body of scientific evidence explains what many of us have learned from unpleasant experience: Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult.” In other words, we’ll think with greater clarity if we give our busy brains a break.

What’s more, travelling together improves relationships and well-being. Research shows that vacations make families feel closer and create memories that will last a lifetime.  When working with our individual incentive travel guests, we hear this all the time. They often tell us that this is the only trip they will take with family this year and how important that is to them. Karen Rubin, writing for cites A U.S. Travel Association/Harris Interactive poll, noting, “Relationships last longer among couples who travel together, and divorce rates are higher among couples who do not travel together.”  Why? Our guests tell us how important it is to spend time together and reconnect.

There’s even a business case for vacations. In her Forbes article, “Take a Vacation: It’s Good for Productivity and the Economy, According to a New Study,”  Tayna Mohn writes, “Most managers recognize the benefits taking time off from work provides to employees: higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention, and significant health benefits.” Further, by vacationing, employees are putting money into the economy via hotels, restaurants, car rentals, and airlines.

Even with all of these good arguments to take the time, Mohn reports that 40% of Americans did not take all of their time off in 2013.  The reasons they give include too much work and fear of being seen as less than committed to the job. In fact, the comments on a CBS report called “Travel Industry to Americans: Take Your Vacation” are very revealing. One reader commented, “Go ahead… take that time off… others can easily replace you… just hope and pray that job is still waiting for you when you get back.” Another writes, “Americans to travel industry: Tell our employers that. Compared to European countries, [they] don’t want us to have vacation. And even if we took it, our pay has stagnated so much that we can’t afford to go anyway.” For many Americans, insecurity still surrounds the workplace, despite the improving economy.

This is precisely why individual incentive travel is so valued by program winners. Not only can they reap the physical and social benefits that come with a vacation, but it is entirely sanctioned by their employer. A recent winner on one of our individual travel incentive programs wrote a note to thank his manager, saying, These trips remind us as Reps that our management cares enough about us to package an incentive that we can enjoy with our family.”

An individual travel incentive makes clear to employees that they matter, they are valued, and that their efforts to achieve organizational goals will result in rewards that are of significant benefit to them personally, as well. We can increase well-being, deepen commitment, and improve productivity with one thoughtful award selection. It’s a pretty powerful message to send to any team. And isn’t that precisely the point of an employee incentive and engagement program? I think so.