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H&E North’s here to uncover some top incentive travel destinations that will make sure your top performers and customers feel appreciated in 2020.

From the ice caps of Iceland to the causeways of Northern Ireland, with our incentive travel destinations, the world’s your oyster!

Rewarding Reykjavik

As the northernmost capital city in the world, Reykjavik is a wonderfully unique Icelandic metropolis combining both urban and rural landscapes. Go for a dip in the geothermal wonder that is the Blue Lagoon, experience the bucket-list worthy Northern Lights, and be taken on a tour of the breath-taking Golden Circle. The city itself is admired for its colourful architecture, traditional Icelandic cuisine and the city’s unmissable monuments.

A trip to Iceland will help clients cultivate their curiosity within a landscape of natural wonders and magical places… I’s where JRR Tolkien was inspired by to create the mythical lands in The Lord of the Rings, after all! Also, as a relative short haul destination, those who cannot take too much time out or are conscious of racking up those air miles, Iceland is a functional, yet breath-taking option.


Langjökull glacier in Reykjavik

Langjökull glacier

Make It There

As an epicentre of food, art and culture, New York City is probably the ultimate incentive you could bestow on your team. A trip of a lifetime for many, NYC is firmly on the list for popular destinations for incentive packages in 2020. New York City has the most active hotel development pipeline in the United States too, with approximately 123,000 hotel rooms currently and another 20,000 rooms on the way. As New York City’s number one source of international visitation in 2019, the UK’s forecasted visitation numbers are estimated to be 1,308,000, an all-time high.

Marketing Manchester’s first-ever official city-to-city tourism collaboration agreement with NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organisation earlier this year, has solidified the Big Apple as another popular option for incentive planners wishing to make the most of this historic alliance for business. The new tourism partnership comes as Virgin Atlantic increases services between the two cities, making a trip from the north easier than ever. Now flying its largest aircraft on the Manchester to JFK route, the Boeing 747, Virgin Atlantic is increasing capacity out of Manchester to NYC by 65%, so there’s never been a better time to book.


One World Observatory in New York, a potential incentive travel destination

One World Observatory

Island Life

The dream of experiencing the sandy beaches and sun-kissed coasts of the Caribbean could soon be a reality for your clients. Virgin Atlantic’s increased flight schedule to NYC means that it will be now easier than ever to visit islands of Barbados. The Caribbean is a real treasure trove for planners on the hunt for an all-encompassing incentive destination for groups of VIPs – and Barbados is the biggest gem of them all.

Boasting idyllic white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, plus upscale hotels and facilities, you can create the perfect balance between leisure and business. This island paradise is also known for its gracious and hospitable people, so you can expect Barbados to be the perfect host.

Private luxury catamaran tours can take you out onto the tranquil, crystal-clear Caribbean Sea, and you’ll have the chance to go swim with wild turtles. Plus, you can even have your own private chef on board. There are lots of other private-hosted activities to choose from, too, like polo or rum tasting experiences.

You could also choose to make the most of the beach life by arranging private dinners on the beach. Add dancing, the sound of steel drums and fireworks, and you’ll give your guests a party to remember.


Style and Substance

Home to two million people and the largest city in Hungary, Budapest is a beautiful city break destination. Within an intriguing mix of Renaissance and modern architecture, along cobblestone streets and in sight of the River Danube, your guests will find elegant cafés, inspiring art galleries, and a multitude of museums in Hungary’s capital. With long sunny days, Budapest is one of the most beautiful and trendy cities in Europe.

There’s been a dynamic increase in business tourism in Hungary – an increase of 13% in 2018 – and it’s easy to see why. Its extensive World Heritage sites include the banks of the Danube, Gresham Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Buda Castle Quarter and the Millennium Underground Railway – the second oldest in the world. The city of Budapest is more than 1,000 years old and has a wonderful variety of the old and the modern. A place that is enticing and inspirational, and able to offer both originality and quality, it’s a destination that will be the perfect stage to showcase an unforgettable incentive trip.

Combine a classic evening out on the Danube with an evening piano concert, or how about organising hosts in traditional Hungarian costume to welcome you at the airport and afterwards taking a limo to the stunning New York Palace, home to one of the world’s most famous and most beautiful coffeehouses – a place where great writers and thinkers of the past congregated. Finally, you could hop on a four-wheeled bicycle, all the way to Margaret Island, Budapest’s biggest and most beautiful island park.


UK Incentive Travel Destinations

Incentive trips are evolving, with some companies choosing to reward their clients and teams in locations much closer to home. For many companies it could be viewed as not a good look for the top execs to be sunning themselves on a beach while the hard work at home is done by the rest of the team. And that’s before taking in the ecological implications of taking clients on nonessential long-haul flights trips around the world.

Here are some closer to home picks from H&E North to suit more conservative budgets or a sustainable business ethos…

Beached Wales

Brand new venues like the £84 million ICC Wales have reinvigorated the corporate appetite for Wales. Relaxing spa breaks at the many luxurious spa resorts, to sampling a true taste of Wales at one of seven Michelin star restaurants, food centres and master class sessions, whiskey and gin distilleries or vineyards await.

If it’s activities to blow away the cobwebs you are looking for then Wales will have it covered. Within three national parks there’s canyoning and caving and an abundance of golf courses including a Ryder Cup course at Celtic Manor Resort. And for heritage experiences, Wales’ national museums and castles are a must, such as an underground Welsh coal mining experience at Blaenavon or the medieval Pembroke Castle, the largest privately owned castle in Wales.


Titanic Quarter Belfast

Titanic Quarter, Courtesy of Tourism Ireland

Travel Fast

Incentive travel trips to Belfast are on the up, thanks to the success of worldwide phenomenon TV’s Game of Thrones, but there’s more to explore than just the strongholds of the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

Belfast’s own Titanic Quarter, home to the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience is a must-see, situated in Hamilton Dock where HMS Titanic was built.

In many respects, Northern Ireland can be seen as a new and emerging destination within the incentive travel industry, with its hotel sector growing rapidly and overnight trips from external visitors alone reaching 2.7 million in 2017. Experiences like the Belfast Gin and Spirits School, Game of Thrones-inspired escape rooms within the city or the Causeway coast, make it easy to see why Belfast and the surrounding region was named as Lonely Planet’s ‘best region in the world’ in 2018.

Just an hour’s flight away from airports such as Leeds-Bradford or Manchester, if you’re looking to cut down on travelling time or reign in the extravagance, then Belfast might be the one for you.


For more ideas and suggestions on incentive travel destinations and meeting destinations, check out our resources on corporate getaways abroad!

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