I was fortunate enough to attend the SITE Canada Education Day on Oct. 25th, and experienced some great professional development sessions. My hat goes off to the committee that planned the day.
One of the general sessions was a presentation by Kurt Paben, president, Channel and Employee Loyalty, Aimia and Site Foundation immediate past-president, entitled 2017 SITE Index: Reimagined with You in Mind. SITE Global is in the process of releasing the results of its latest analysis and forecast of the global incentive industry, so this was a preview especially designed for the Canadian chapter.
The SITE Index is an annual review of the incentive travel world. This year’s analysis and forecast is based on a survey that included the responses of 599 industry professionals, both buyers and sellers, as well as other industry professionals from 62 countries. The first reality that the Index recognized is that in a world that is facing ever-changing political and economic conditions as well as health and safety fears, the incentive industry is complicated.
Here are some of the findings that I, personally, found most interesting.
North American and European buyers are most likely to utilize domestic travel, South Americans are looking at fewer domestic programs, and Asian buyers are most likely to utilize international travel destinations. Regardless of their location, almost 80 per cent of all buyers see a negative impact of terrorism on their ability to do plan and operate incentive programs.
In his presentation, Kurt made a point of saying that if the audience was not tracking the results achieved by their incentive programs, they should definitely consider starting. It is fine to believe incentive programs are a strong motivator of performance, but those of us involved in the industry should have real data that we can use when discussing incentives with corporate executives or clients. As the Index said “tracking and providing a credible ROI metric is a missed opportunity for suppliers to differentiate themselves and for Buyers to prove the power of incentive travel to create business results.”
One trend that the majority of buyers believe has negatively impacted the travel industry was disintermediation or the cutting out of the middlemen. This negative view is primarily driven by third-party suppliers, 70 per cent of whom believe the increase of corporate buyers going direct to suppliers is negatively impacting their companies. Only 19 per cent of corporate buyers perceive this as an issue.
As well, the Site Index forecasts an increasing role for event technology providers in incentive travel. This means increased revenue for that sector of the industry.
This is a quick summary of the latest Site Index. As Kurt stated in his presentation, incentive travel remains in a positive position, but is vulnerable due to the world’s economic and political conditions and the fact that few planners have hard facts to prove the value of their programs.
Lots more information will be released in the coming weeks and months. If you work in the incentive travel industry, I recommend that you check the Site website regularly for updates and more detailed forecasts.
– Les Selby is the director of Meetings & Events for Aimia’s Channel and Employee division in Canada. He has been a corporate, third party and independent event professional for over 25 years. Les has earned both his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and his Global Certification in Meeting Management (CMM). Inducted into Meeting + Incentive Travel Magazine’s Industry Hall of Fame in 2009, he is an active member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI). He served on the Toronto chapter’s Board of Directors, and was the 2000-2001 chapter president. In 1997, Les was recognized as Planner of the Year by the MPI Toronto chapter, and received the President’s Award for 2009. He can be reached at email@example.com.