Research: Growing Budgets, More Participants in Incentive Travel Programs

IRF, SITE, FICP study finds increased budgets from more than half of respondents

More than half (54 percent) of the respondents to a new study on incentive programs said budgets will increase next year, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said programs will have more qualifiers, according to the landmark Incentive Travel Industry Index. The research is a joint initiative between Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, the Incentive Research Foundation and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals, which was conducted this past spring and summer by J.D. Power. The research offers a wide-ranging analysis of business conditions, attitudes and expectations impacting incentive travel and motivational events worldwide. 

 More than 1,000 respondents from 80 countries participated in the survey, making it the largest study to date of senior incentive-travel professionals. Participants were divided equally between suppliers (more than half of that group was composed of destination management companies) and buyers, with 70 percent from incentive firms and 30 percent from corporations. The majority of those polled were tenured industry professionals with an average of 17.3 years of experience. Approximately half were located in the United States.

 Other preliminary findings of the study, released today, include:

 • Median spending per participant is $4,000. Corporate users reported a higher median spend ($4,550) than incentive firms ($3,500).

 • The increase in the number of program qualifiers is fueled by company growth and optimism in the economy.

 • The use of all-inclusive destinations is on the rise, particularly for incentive agencies.
 • Sales and profitability remain the top reasons to run an incentive program, but more weight is being given to building relationships between management and employees, increasing productivity and employee engagement.

 • Nearly 70 percent of buyers said their programs are effective at achieving business objectives. However, only a quarter always measure ROI/ROO, with more than 50 percent stating such measurements are not required.

 • North America, the Caribbean and Western Europe remain the most popular destinations for incentive travel.

 • Destination appeal was cited as the top criteria for selecting one destination over another, followed by safety and value for money.

 • Fam trips and hosted-buyer meetings are the primary sources used by incentive planners to learn about a new destination.

 • Wellness, including yoga, is now a top inclusion for incentive planners; CSR activities dropped slightly in popularity.

 • More than two-thirds of corporate users include meetings in their incentive programs (particularly in the finance sector), while less than a third of incentive agencies do.

 The full study will be released during IMEX America in Las Vegas. Leaders from SITE, IRF and FICP will present a deep dive into the Index findings during a session on Smart Monday, Oct. 15, at 11:15 a.m.  The session also will be streamed live on the SITE Facebook page.