A Trip to St. Thomas Puts Incentive Travel in Perspective

A Trip to St. Thomas Puts Incentive Travel in Perspective

December 19, 2013

It’s hard to put your finger on just what it is about incentive travel that can be so rewarding. It offers a break from day-to-day worries, as well as an opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s most amazing locations and to spend time with family and colleagues. But sometimes it provides a moment so exceptional that it changes your perspective.

In my 37 years of incentive travel experience, one such moment stands out as an example of the kind of inspiration we can create with a carefully crafted program.

St. Thomas is a beautiful island. It offers lush landscapes, secluded beaches, and steep hills that give way to spectacular vistas. Some years ago, we brought a program of 150 guests to the island as a sales incentive and recognition reward.

One evening, we departed at sunset aboard a dozen sail-boats. It was a beautiful night. Each vessel held only 10 to 15 guests for an intimate ambiance among work friends. A single musician played aboard each boat, as the captain and crew prepared dinner and drinks for their passengers.  We sailed around a peninsula to a cove and moored.

It’s often still on the water in the evening, and this night was no exception. As our guests dined, we could hear the sounds of laughter and music from the boats in all directions.  Each boat created a little island of light and sound across the hush of the water. The sun sank and twilight spread across the Caribbean.  Many of the guests fell quiet to just enjoy the moment.

A branch manager’s wife – a fairly reserved person up to that point – broke the silence. She said “I’m a fortunate woman.  I have a lovely home and family. And I realize at this moment that it’s because of all of you and I just want to say ‘thank you.’” There was not a dry eye on the boat.

That’s the power of incentive travel. It provides an important moment where the work we do has meaning and context. It enriches our lives and we can take a moment to say “thank you” to our friends and co-workers. It creates the connection between our personal, emotional life and our work. It’s pretty hard to beat.