Hard Rock Cancun Hosts Annual Incentive Research Foundation Invitational 2013

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) hosted its 20th Annual Incentive Invitational conference at Hard Rock Cancun in May, with both suppliers and buyers reporting a positive spirit and sense of optimism. The IRF’s spring 2013 Pulse survey is forecasting increased optimism and innovation throughout the MICE industry, leading to increasingly higher budgets for incentive travel programs.

Prevue sat down with IRF President Melissa Van Dyke and board members Matt Harris and Richard Weinstein to learn more about the IRF’s important research and advocacy for incentive reward travel.

“We have had over 60 studies over the past 20 years and even the early studies are still being used today,” says Harris. “And in the last three years, 30 studies have been completed, based on us listening to the marketplace and what buyers are focusing on. These studies are being accessed at our website and the numbers are growing steadily, with a quadrupling of visitors and tripling of unique visitors. There is a need for a constant stream of information and we are providing it.”

Another accomplishment and resource for planners are the IRF’s education programs.

“We have tripled our education series and have webinars every third Thursdays,” says Weinstein.

In one IRF study this year, it was announced that there’s an almost even split between North American firms that combine offsite meetings and incentive travel programs and those who do not. The successful integration of this practice should ensure that the combination leads to five suggested positive results:

  • Provoke strong and immediate emotional reactions based on the choice of destination, venue and activities
  • Create brand advocates for an organization or company’s initiatives
  • Become the symbol or benchmark for a specific set of values and how people identify the company or organization
  • Incite conversation about the value of the program
  • Encourage other employees or channel partners to realign around the behaviors of incentive program winners

“When business meetings are made part of an incentive travel program, they must be so important, useful and compelling that they become part of the reward itself,” says Van Dyke.


The 601-room Hard Rock Cancun is an all-inclusive property set on a gorgeous beach with multi-blue hued waters. Aside from all of the interior meeting and public spaces, many attendees also networked in the pool area with open bars and large pool decks perfect for day and evening events. Hard Rock offers 16,400 sf of meeting and function space.

In the evenings, our group visited Le Blanc Resort & Spa, Secrets The Vine Cancun and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, all of which put on elaborate dining and reception events in wonderful settings. Planners will really have their pick of good hotel product for meeting and incentive programs, and with the all-inclusive option that is popular here, the value and ROI are clear. The airport transfers and evening event transportation were handled flawlessly by Amstar DMC.

During the day, CEO MEXICO Corportate Event Organizers provided all of the delegates a choice of activities and transportation, including Cooking Classes at the Little Mexican Cooking School, and a variety of land- and water-based adventures such as golf and dolphin interaction programs.

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Laurel Herman is publisher/editorial director of Prevue. She has spent the last 39 years roaming the globe with the focused belief that sharing stories of different cultures and experiences is an integral way to foster world peace. It all started in 1972 while she was finishing her college education in London, when she had the opportunity to backpack throughout Europe. Laurel continued her love affair with travel by expanding Recommend Magazine to a worldwide destination brand when she became its publisher/editorial director in 1985. She then launched the Prevue brand in 2009, which has taken her to destinations like Egypt, India, Australia, France, Barcelona, Thailand, Italy and Israel, among others.