IRF Study: Incentive Industry 'Cautiously Optimistic'

Despite the economic challenges it experienced in 2009, the incentive travel industry is expecting the start of a slow but certain recovery in 2010, suggests a new study from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).

Although they're not yet ready to proclaim the end of the recession, the "Incentive Industry Trends 2010" study found that industry professionals are feeling better about their industry's outlook, convinced that incentives will continue to play a critical role in employee motivation, engagement and productivity—in good times and bad.

"Cautiously optimistic is the term I would use to describe the overall message in the data from the survey," IRF Research Committee Chair Mark Peterman said in a statement. "Our sense is that companies may have been sitting on budgets for the past 10 months or so waiting to see how things were going to play out and whether there was going to be more pushback from the media and community regarding incentives."

Among IRF's key findings:

• 33 percent of respondents say the economy has a positive impact on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs, up from 24 percent in July 2009 and 11 percent in March 2009.

• 44 percent of respondents anticipate no change in incentive travel destinations this year, while 47 percent expect a switch from international to domestic destinations.

• 41 percent of respondents anticipate no change with regard to sponsored non-meal-related components for incentive travel programs this year, while 7 percent expect a moderate increase.

• 16 percent of respondents expect incentive travel budgets to increase this year, while 30 percent expect them to remain unchanged.

• 56 percent of respondents anticipate that their involvement in procurement and purchasing for incentive travel programs will increase this year.

For more information about the IRF survey, visit www.theirf.org.