A time to journey within

There are activities that cannot be replaced by virtual alternatives, like hugs, handshakes and honeymoons. Incentive travel planners will not hesitate to add to that list reward trips for top achievers.

Interviews conducted for our cover feature this month show just that – they are unanimous in their belief that the motivational value of extraordinary travel experiences can’t be beat and will remain the preferred business tool for companies looking to drive performance.

As much as that is true, the painful reality is that with most international borders shut to non-essential travel, one cannot jet their top achievers off to somewhere impressive and exotic. The only destination that remains accessible is one’s very own backyard.

For many companies, an incentive trip at home packs a weak punch, so top performers of 2019 are taking home cold, hard cash rewards this year.

But is one’s own backyard truly that unworthy as a reward? This pandemic could well be a true test of incentive programmers’ creativity, especially if they have long built their fortune on whisking top achievers off to foreign lands that sell themselves. How will they fare turning inwards to identify gems at home? And can they convince their clients to trust them?

What I think could aid incentive programmers in their quest for an outstanding local experience now is the intensified marketing by hospitality players to the domestic audience – the only source of business they currently have.

At the same time, studies have found that consumers are desiring destination experiences that are authentic and enriching when they can resume their travels. But why wait till international borders reopen? There are authentic and enriching experiences to be found at home, to be discovered by residents who never thought to give what they perceived as familiar a second glance.

Could a fireside chat with the destination’s last-standing whoever be hosted, where guests would hear precious first-hand recollections of a bygone era that even their grandparents wouldn’t know to tell? Could a group access a local landmark that is reserved for the highest of foreign dignitaries? Could a feast be served, featuring rare recipes that are close to extinction because of cultural dilution?

I’m sure even a destination as small as Singapore would hold many hidden gems in her bosom, and I would love to rediscover my country myself.

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