New data from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) reveals that the incentive industry’s recovery is not only sustaining but also accelerating.
The IRF’s biannual “Pulse” surveys ask motivation industry professionals about trends in incentive programs, examining core areas of impact such as budgets/purchasing, the national economy, destinations/accommodations and program elements.
The new Pulse survey data indicates that things have stabilized compared to prior survey periods, “establishing a strong positive upward trend for each of the core elements beginning in July 2009 and continuing through May 2014.”
Highlights of the latest Pulse survey include:
- 67% of incentive travel program owners and 48% of merchandise/gift card program owners indicate they continue to be optimistic and feel the economy is having more of a positive impact on their ability to plan programs.
- 47% of respondents anticipate budgets for incentive travel programs will “moderately increase” this coming year; 37% indicate that travel program budgets will remain unchanged.
- For merchandise/noncash programs, 49% expect budgets will remain unchanged, while 46% say budgets will increase to some degree.
- 52% of respondents say the involvement of Procurement and Purchasing in travel incentive program decision-making will remain unchanged, but 32% indicate that this involvement will “moderately increase” and 12% say it will “significantly increase” in the coming year.
- 46% of respondents anticipate no change in respect to destinations for incentive travel programs in the coming year, but 15% say there will be a shift from domestic programs to more international programs.
- The top destination for incentive travel programs is the Caribbean (47%), followed by North America (43%) and Europe (34%).
- 26% of respondents say there will be no change to “all inclusive” pricing options for the accommodations portion of incentive travel programs in the coming year, while 14% anticipate some change to this policy.
- Electronics (43%), open loop cards (40%) and jewelry/watches (34%) are the most popular types of merchandise for incentive programs.
- 74% of respondents say they use a points-based system for their merchandise/noncash incentive programs.
- 46% of respondents indicate they use social media tool/techniques to enhance their incentive programs.
- 37% indicate they integrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) and gaming elements into their programs.
The latest Pulse Survey was conducted July 21-August 6, 2014. Participants were in three basic categories: Corporate (buyers, planners, sales, HR); Supplier (hotels, airlines, DMCs, merchandise); and Third Party (incentive company, travel agency, consultant).