How much free time should staff have during an incentive trip

Posted by Jo Kelly

A well-planned and well-organised incentive travel trip can lead to some particularly unique and memorable experiences for your staff. That said, incentive travel doesn’t have to be planned and organised down to the minute, but neither does it have to be wholly unplanned.

If you offer your staff enjoyable and interesting planned events during the incentive trip, alongside giving them the freedom to spend some time however they wish, your business can certainly stand to benefit from a more refreshed, reinvigorated and motivated workforce upon their return.

So how much free time should you give your staff during an incentive trip?

Keeping the balance

Incentive trips should try to avoid being just one thing – only educational or only recreational, for instance. If you focus entirely on providing team experiences, such as a packed itinerary of group activities, staff might feel a little burnt out by the end of it, having had little time to do their own thing, relax and unwind.

Focusing too much on providing free time, though, means there can be fewer tangible benefits added to your business once the incentive trip is finished and staff return to the office. For instance, a relaxing weekend away will probably help staff unwind, but they might not return from the trip feeling motivated to improve their job skills, work harder and perform better.

Depending on how far afield the incentive trip is taking your staff, it might open up a great deal of variety in the kinds of things they can do in their free time.

See our information on incentive travel

Keep the location in mind  

You should also think about your team and the kind of interests they have. Doing so will help you plan out the perfect destination for your staff to best enjoy the free time they have during the trip.

For example, if your team have an interest in skiing, you could take them to a winter location such as Switzerland, which could include a day or two at a ski resort. In addition to some group ski lessons, you could make the trip more memorable by giving staff time to unwind at the resort, allowing them to spend that time how they choose. This could include experiencing skiing on an advanced slope or a beginners’ one, or just enjoying a drink and admiring the views from an après-ski bar.

Destinations also open up some interesting and engaging areas to hold the more conventional parts of your incentive trip, too. Skiing in the alps is great to unwind with, but a team training day held in view of the alps, like in a mountain lodge, could make the educational elements stand out more – especially when balanced with the free time you provide.

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What about longer incentive trips?

Perhaps you’re planning on engaging your staff with a longer incentive trip. For instance, you might want to incentivise your staff before they start a long and challenging campaign to sell a new product. Or perhaps a particularly stressful and busy year has just come to a close and you want to reward your team.

In cases such as this, you might be looking at holding a trip that lasts for a full week or longer. This greatly opens up the possibilities of what your incentive reward can offer, including how you provide free time.

For example, throughout the week you can mix up when and where certain events are scheduled. On some days, you could schedule activities close to shops and cinema, so your staff can spend their free time enjoying some shopping or going to see a film. On other days, events could be scheduled to finish at the start of the evening close to bars and restaurants. This will give your staff the time to go out for a meal or experience the local night life.

The last day of such an incentive trip could be given almost entirely to staff for them to do as they please – especially if you have planned a particularly busy week with plenty to see and do. Perhaps you could then schedule a meal at a nice restaurant in the evening and cover the costs for a staff night out. This sort of gesture would be seen as a final “thank you” and show of gratitude to your staff for all their hard work, and a great way to end an incentive trip on a memorable high note.

Helping you to plan the perfect incentive trip

An incentive trip that offers the right balance between planned activities that help staff improve as employees, and free time to enjoy themselves, can make a trip more effective and successful. It can make staff feel valued and allow elements of a trip stand out, while providing a fantastic experience that caters for everyone involved.

We’d love to excite, engage and inspire your staff with our top incentive travel services. To speak to a member of our award-winning team:

Jo has worked at CR Worldwide as Events Operations Director since 2004. She is responsible for scoping and delivering all types of events, for clients of all sizes, globally. She manages the division’s team who organise and execute award-winning events – ranging from one-off sales floor days, corporate hospitality events and incentive travel trips, to annual conferences and partner summits.