Corporate Rewards, the incentives and events specialist, has compiled a Top 10 guide of the most appealing reward destinations – and the good news is that they are not only affordable, but give companies a fabulous return on investment.
Jo Meddings, Head of Events at Corporate Rewards, explains: “The ultimate reward for your highest performers is incentive travel, whether you want to motivate and reward your employees, or keep your product front-of-mind for your sales teams.”
“As a one-off prize or part of a wider incentive programme, it provides a big win for your hardest-working people – and for your business.
“Incentive travel ideas for 2016 are undoubtedly the best offerings we’ve seen for a decade. They really have the capacity to inspire people to do more, by presenting once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
Corporate Rewards liaises closely with the travel, tourism and entertainment industries worldwide to keep abreast of established and upcoming destinations, especially those that look like they really understand how to give travellers the time of their lives.
The company’s contacts worldwide also means that they can plan trips around events in each destination, enabling them to deliver unique incentive travel experiences.
This year’s top destinations for incentive travel are (in alphabetical order – see below for more details):
1. Baku, Azerbaijan
2. Cape Town, South Africa
10. Vilnius, Lithuania
Jo adds: “Trips create memories that last a lifetime and, in the case of incentive travel, these happy recollections will be forever affiliated to your company or brand – a feel-good factor that lasts, and which builds loyalty and engagement.”
“Our dedicated team has vast experience in setting up and managing incentive travel programmes for many of our clients. 2016 promises to be a bumper year for incentive travel and our team is prepared for action with a list of the top ten destinations for the year ahead.”
Here are the reasons why Corporate Rewards has selected these locations:
1. Explore the Capital Land of Fire in Azerbaijan
The Old City of Baku was the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its walls encircle the Shirvanshah’s Palace and the Maiden Tower, two key historical attractions that date back to the 12th century.
Groups can enjoy a walking tour of the Walled City to admire 25 historical sites, including the Fortress Walls, the Maiden’s Tower, numerous mosques and the 15th century Palace of Shirvanshahs. This destination offers a taste of delicious Azerbaijan cuisine during a professional cooking class, plus a day spent in the city of Naftalan and the chance to experience a therapeutic crude oil bath.
2. Soar down mountainsides and dive with sharks in Cape Town
Cape Town remains a sought after destination thanks to its beautiful scenery and the breathtaking sight of Table Mountain, the backdrop to a vibrant city mixing the old and new.
This cosmopolitan South African city boasts the Stellenbosch wine region and beautiful Camps Bay, with an array of leisure activities on offer, including shark cage diving in the Atlantic, abseiling down Table Mountain, windsurfing, whale watching, snorkelling or shopping.
3. Foodies and sports lovers will adore quaint Copenhagen
Scandinavia holds a unique appeal and Copenhagen is an extremely desirable destination. This stylish city features traditional neighbourhoods with small, narrow streets and crooked houses in addition to countless shopping streets, cosy cafes, restaurants, canals and a contemporary waterfront.
For those with a love of sporting activities, wakeboarding is on offer at Copenhagen Cable Park. Or for more sedate tastes, a cooking class at CPH Good Food teaches delicious, authentic Nordic cuisine. Exciting evening entertainment at the Music box promises music, artistry and impressive acrobatics.
4. Medieval sightseeing and island-hopping in Croatia
With long coastlines and more than a thousand islands, this picturesque destination offers historical attractions and a broad selection of shops, restaurants and nightlife venues.
The inland capital, Zagreb, is famous for its medieval Gornji Grad and diverse museums, whilst the major coastal city of Dubrovnik is known for its distinctive Old Town, which features massive 16th century stone walls. For party people, island-hopping is the ultimate activity with nightclubs, beach parties and festivals aplenty, often with live performances from international DJs, all overlooking the crystal clear sea.
5. Under the midnight sun and the Northern Lights in Greenland
As the world's largest island, Greenland’s rugged landscape and unique seasons offer a once in a lifetime destination. For two to three months in summer, Greenland sees continuous daylight, the so-called midnight sun. Ideal for those with a love of the outdoors, you can enjoy skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, mountain climbing, kayaking, fishing or diving.
To get a feel for the landscape there are flying tours available of the magnificent icebergs and glaciers, or take a boat to the hot springs of Uunartog. And for the lucky, this destination offers the chance to see the spectacular Northern Lights.
6. Live history and love the leisure pursuits in Malta
Offering year-round sun, Malta allows you to indulge in outdoor living at its best, with many sports on offer and a number of wellness and spa facilities available at luxury hotels and club resorts. Discover Comino’s Blue Lagoon, a protected cove with a stunning white-sand seabed and clear waters perfect for snorkelling.
Often described as a big open-air museum, Malta’s dramatic past is well preserved, for those who like to explore history in person. Visit Valletta’s historical battlements and forts by cruise boat and minibus. A wonderful mix of old and new, Valetta features beautiful architecture in St John’s co-Cathedral which boasts rich ornamentation, marble tomb slabs, vaulted ceilings and the famous Caravaggio Paintings.
7. Cultural Qatar – A taste of the Arabian
Qatar is known for its heritage souqs (open-air marketplaces), world-class museum of Islamic Art and extravagant malls. Take a tour of Qatar's southern desert, viewing colossal dunes and the sweeping majesty of the Arabian landscape.
The Katara Cultural Village is a huge atmospheric attraction, showing regular performances in a variety of venues by the Arabian Gulf. Catch opera, live music, cinema, English-language theatre and a whole range of alternative options. Try camel racing, the country’s traditional sport, for an insight into local culture.
8. Tread the footsteps of Count Dracula in Romania
The largest of the Balkan countries, Romania offers outstanding mountain scenery and a coastline on the Black Sea. The capital, Bucharest, is known as Little Paris, featuring beautiful architecture and the second largest building in the world – the Palace of Parliament, with over 3,000 rooms.
Follow the trail of Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula, the bloodthirsty Count who reigned through Transylvania, on a unique tour. Visit the Old Princely Court built by Vlad’s ancestors, Cozia Monastery built by his grandfather or the cathedral where Vlad’s son was assassinated and buried. The very brave could even tour Bran Castle, the legendary home of Dracula.
9. Thrills and chills in stunning Vietnam
Vietnam is a country of exotic natural beauty. Visit World Heritage Site Halong Bay, comprising tropical forests, enchanting caves, waterfalls and stunning views. For sport-lovers, the lush island of Cat Bu is famous for its world class rock climbing, hiking, biking and sailing. Thrill-seekers can enjoy kitesurfing in the waters of Mui Ne, and swim through underground rivers in the remarkable Paradise Caves at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National, followed by a lunch under a light shaft.
Those who prefer relaxing pastimes can seek out Vietnam’s outstanding spas within marble temples, or take part in a famous cookery class in Hoi An; Vietnamese food is now considered the best in Southeast Asia.
10. Labyrinths, ruins and adventures in Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius is considered to be the ornate beauty of the Baltic, with Europe’s largest elaborate old town at its heart. From beautiful architecture to go-karting, the area caters for diverse interests.
Adventurous groups can climb and zip wire through the trees at the Belmont Adventure Park. Or take a team through a Maze Adventure at Labyrinthus, an intricate journey through darkness and scary surprises! For a watery challenge, teams can undertake a thrilling game of Canoe Polo at Force One.