Based on its recent pulse surveys, the Incentive Research Foundation forecasts a strong 2015 for incentive travel. Following are 5 upward trends:
1) The economy is having less impact on incentives
In the beginning of 2009, 86% of respondents to an IRF pulse survey reported that the economy was having a negative impact on their incentive travel programs. By this fall, only 15% responded that way. In fact, 67% said the economy was having a positive impact on their incentive programs and 19% were neutral.
2) Budgets are on the rise
Late 2010 saw the first signs of recovery, as more planners began to increase budgets than decrease them (44% vs. 24% respectively). Since 2011, budgets have increased precipitously, with 2014 showing the strongest growth to date. Almost half of planners this fall said they would increase their budgets, and only 10% said they would decrease them in 2015.
3) Per-person spending is increasing
Per-person spend is also up to an average of $3,440, and more than a quarter of pulse survey respondents said their budgets would exceed $4,000 per person. More corporate buyers (30%) than incentive houses (23%) noted that their budgets would exceed $4,000 per person heading into 2015.
4) International incentive travel is on the rebound
At the height of the recession, 45% of planners were moving their programs from international to domestic locations., and long-haul travel became rare. This trend shifted in the spring of 2014 when IRF research showed more planners taking their programs international from domestic (15%) than bringing their international programs back to domestic destinations (10%). The top choices are the Caribbean, followed by Europe (more than half of incentive houses reported planning programs in Europe). Between 10 and 20% of planners said they would be using Central America, South America or Asia.
5) Group size and trip lengths remain steady
In 2009 and 2010, planners needed to find ways to create motivating trips with the same or smaller budgets, and often cut the size and duration of their programs—a tactic used by more than half of respondents in the height of the recession. In the fall of 2014, that number had shrunken to less than 10%. However, fewer than 10% reported increasing the number of days of their programs.
To see the full study, visit the IRF web site.