Luxe incentive programs are all about pampering and making memories. But times have changed. Today’s attendees want to stay in shape, and they don’t want to return home five pounds heavier. What they expect from a luxury incentive program is experiential health and wellness activities with a wow factor. “Health and wellness very much has a place in luxury incentive travel programs, now more than ever,” says Patty Karsten, division vice president, industry relations/incentives at BI WORLDWIDE. “Not only are people more health conscious, but they are traveling more and want to stay fit when they’re away.”
Healthy Incentives that Don’t Skimp on Luxe
What this mindset means for luxury incentive programs is offering creative wellness experiences that take attendees away from their daily grind, says Nathan Boyd, president of RMC, a destination management company in Aspen, Colo. “It used to be that a world-class spa was all that you needed for proper health and wellness on incentive trips, but today, while an amazing spa is nice, we are being asked to incorporate more activities outside the hotel—such as a guided hike to a remote lake for a healthy picnic lunch, or a meditation class in a grove of Aspen trees.”
The healthy living trend is also bringing a new generation of fitness-oriented, such as Navy Seal–type boot camps, to luxury incentives, adds Catherine Chaulet, president of Global Partners. “A few of our DMCs have even had requests from clients who want to set up high-impact teambuilding activities for their attendees similar to TV’s ‘American Ninja Warrior’ or ‘Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.’”
Here are more tips from the experts on how to add wellness “wows” to luxury incentive programs:
Incentive attendees also want healthful food choices—but not the spare spa food of yore. “People definitely want to eat healthier. But they also want to experience local cuisine,”. Says Nancy Matos, vice president, Group Services Inc., Puerto Rico, a Hosts Global Alliance DMC. As well, attendees expect chef-driven menus. Which, says Denise Landis, publisher of The Cook’s Cook magazine, have become part of the general wellness trend. Landis—who is also a long-time professional recipe tester. Recommends that planners work directly with the chef. To design menus for meals and breaks that reflect current farm-to-fork food trends.