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| Written by Mary Enke, CIS

Incentive Hot Spots Close to Home

As we gear up for travel once again and our travel incentives begin to take on new life, incentive planners will need to be creative with travel destinations. Instead of flipping the switch to the “on” position and picking up where you left off, consider a slight change in strategy by creating more exclusive, domestic programs. This will be valuable for any outstanding travel or group meeting restrictions as well as with any upcoming budget constraints. Program design and creating a WOW experience should remain consistent. But fear not, your incentive travel goals can be accomplished with a creative domestic-destination strategy. 

Let’s pause to consider where our incentive guest’s mindset will be during the second half of 2020. Qualifiers will want to get away, network, and interact more than ever. However, they may want to stay closer to home, avoid international travel, and longer stays. 

Additionally, incentive planners may want to consider different timing for their program to fully maximize availability and avoid postponing for a full year. For instance, considering a location suitable for fall or winter incentives instead of typically traveling in spring and summer.

With this in mind, our Incentive Strategy team has gathered some domestic incentive destination hot spots suitable for year-round travel.

The Florida Keys

Why we love it.

Imagine landing at Miami International Airport to experience one of America’s most unique motor journeys. This 110-mile overseas highway offers ocean views, numerous bridges, natural wonders, and history like no other place.  

For many, the epitome of a Keys getaway is simply relaxing waterside in the sun holding an umbrella drink, and having nothing at all on the daily agenda. Others dream of the excitement of a trophy fish on the line or diving to new depths to view spectacular reefs, awesome wrecks, and beautiful fish life. 

Local Experiences

We suggest beginning the journey in Miami and offer convertibles for each couple to travel to the Keys. This accomplishes two goals; first, it avoids guests from packing into a bus together (think social distancing) as well as provides a unique and intimate arrival experience. 

There is an abundance of astonishing hotel and resort options. The Florida Keys offers amazing ocean activities, such as snorkeling, kayaking, eco-tours, and fishing to superb boutique shopping, art galleries, and culinary experiences. This island encounter has something for everyone.

The Rocky Mountains

Why we love it

Majestic mountain destinations such as Jackson Hole, Park City, Colorado Springs, and Aspen have so much to offer year-round. Enjoy the tranquility of nature, fresh air, and breathtaking scenery to create an escape from the everyday routine.  The Rockies offer cool urban cities, an abundance of festivals, and incredible culinary opportunities ranging from first-class restaurants with fine dining to western casual microbreweries, distilleries, and saloons. The combination of the wild and wonderful to the casual and sophisticated will transport you to a place like no other in time.

Local Experiences 

Activities and local experiences vary greatly depending on the season. Incentive planners will find a range from hiking, biking, zip-lining, horseback riding, fly fishing, white-water rafting, nature walks, wildlife tours to skiing, tubing, sleigh rides, snowmobiling and creative après ski soirees.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Why we love it

Santa Fe is timeless, earthy, exciting, cultural, artsy, unspoiled, rustic sophistication, charming, and historic. Perhaps this is the reason it’s known as “The City Different”? With 320 days of sunshine per year, this destination is optimal for enjoying the great outdoors; hiking and biking throughout the year; skiing from fall to spring; enjoying world-class opera; and shopping one of the country’s largest art markets. Guests can certainly enjoy a colorful journey at any time of the year in Santa Fe. 

Local Experiences

From shopping and dining to hiking the Bandelier National Monument to experiencing eleven thousand-year-old cave dwellings, Sante Fe offers a uniquely southwestern experience. Guests can design their own cowboy boots, take a southwest culinary class, dine at a luxurious ranch, experience an opera, browse art galleries, and enjoy world-class spas. The accommodation options for incentives are as diverse as the city itself from hotels to resorts. 

Central Coast of California

Why we love it 

Are your guests looking for a stunning coastline incentive experience? Central California offers one of the best coastlines in the continental 48 and it is easily accessible and located within a few hours’ drive of San Francisco, LA and Monterey.

The area has much to offer. Discover secret beaches, marvel at soaring cliffs, stroll the redwood trail, and sip pinot noir at sunset. Consider offering guests a “social distancing day” from the group with a car to hop on the epic Highway 1 and partake their personally curated journey along the coast 

Local Experiences

The incentive resort will drive much of the experience and there are many great options to choose from that offer exclusive coastal destinations. Guests can choose from many unique activities including wine pairing and tasting, kayaking the bay, biking the vines, competing in bocce ball, and engaging in the country’s finest wellness activities. Additionally, Hearst Castle, and the exciting new Grammy Museum scheduled to open in December 2020 and will provide a brand-new exclusive experience for groups. Consider adding in a split program with Santa Barbara which offers amazing sunset sails and urban wine trails. 

Virginia Hunt Country 

Why we love it

A mere 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital and Dulles Airport, guests can escape to refined sophistication of a luxurious country estate.  Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Middleburg, Virginia offers the best of small-town America. Local art, Historic landmarks, fine cuisine, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and world-class equestrian competitions. 

Local Experiences

The resort options offer on-site full Equestrian Centers; lawn games including croquet, bocce ball, corn hole, and life-sized chess; Harriman’s Cooking Studio offering interactive cooking classes or a private chef’s table; and putting greens for aspiring golfers. Stroll the town and explore the surrounding area to discover lovely local wineries, exhilarating zip line courses, action-packed polo matches, test your hand at falconry, and dine at a charming horse barn.