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Big Side Benefit of Incentive Travel: Positive Publicity

FortuneThis outdoors gear company got international publicity because of a unique benefit offering employees bucket list adventures.

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If you’re not an outdoors person, you might not have heard of Cotopaxi but many more have now thanks to this recent article in Fortune by Paige McGlauflin and Emma Burleigh.
According to the article, “full-time workers at the remote-first company earn a bucket list trip stipend after 18 months and again after five years of continual service. Employees can use the benefit for short vacations, volunteering trips, or simply exploring new places.”
The company is a certified B Corporate, meaning that its processes are audited to ensure that it “uses the power of business for social, environmental, and economic good.” 
According to the company’s mission statement, “Adventure inspires us to see the world and make it better. That’s why we build gear that fuels both outdoor experiences and global change. To achieve our mission, we dedicate at least 1% of our revenue to nonprofits that help communities experiencing poverty.”
Grace ZuncicThe bucket list benefit program “goes back to this philosophy that we really want people to be outdoors when they can be adventuring, using the products,” Grace Zuncic, Cotopaxi’s Chief People and Impact Officer, tells Fortune.
As explained in the article, workers receive grossed up stipends of $1,000 after 18 months and $5,000 after five years so the employees receive the full amount after taxes. There are some administrative procedures: employees must fill out a request form to confirm their eligibility, how they intend to use the stipend, and the timing for final manager approval, among other details.
Both salaried and full-time hour employees generally get generous paid-time-off packages, so “workers can greatly extend the trips if desired.”  Employees have used the funds to summit Mount St. Helens in Washington State, travel to Japan, and bike through Ecuador to Cotopaxi, the active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains for which the company is named.
“The award coming in as early as it does is a nod to the fact that we recognize how much people are contributing,” says Zuncic. The company also offers an annual “summer camp” open to all employees, and two hours each day blocked off every other day.

“We celebrate that,” Zuncic says of encouraging workers to share their outdoor experiences. “We want people to live their best lives and do their best work at the company, and it feels so authentic because the business model is pushing for more of this as well.”

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