CHICAGO — The 2017 SITE Index, released mid-October by the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Foundation, reveals that the incentive travel industry is doing well, despite world events.
The SITE Index highlights the fluid world of incentive travel affected by factors such as the world economy, the potential for terrorist actions, and the political climate. Other factors such as the proliferation of disintermediation and the growing role of event technology are also influencing the industry.
“The travel industry has always been one easily affected by world events. From uncertain economies to natural calamities, from acts of terrorism to Zika concerns, a lot has happened over the past year that has impacted travel. Despite the ever-changing global landscape, the incentive travel industry is still holding strong,” said Tina Weede, CRP, SITE Foundation vice-president research and education and president, USMotivation, who presented the results at a session during an IMEX America Smart Monday session.
Sixty per cent of buyers report they plan to increase the number of people eligible for incentive travel awards in the next year, and nearly half of all buyers say that budgets have increased. An overwhelming majority of respondents (99 per cent) believe that incentive travel programs are somewhat or very effective in achieving important business objectives, with approximately eight in 10 buyers and sellers reporting that they are a strong motivator of performance.
While increased airline costs have the greatest negative impact, concerns over the economy are growing, especially amongst sellers. Sixty-seven per cent of sellers and 56 per cent of buyers say that the state of the world economy has the potential to negatively impact their travel programs. This means creating value becomes paramount amidst economic concerns, and 76 per cent of sellers report working on greater creativity/innovative event design in order to increase value for their customers.
Tightening of border security and safety concerns has had a significantly increased impact on incentive travel decisions. Almost eight out of ten buyers see a negative impact of terrorism on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs. European buyers are the most concerned (85 per cent), followed by Asian buyers (83 per cent) and North American buyers (78 per cent).