Incentive Research Foundation survey on Covid-19 impact shows
2022 rebound, especially for domestic programs.
An IRF Pulse Survey of 180 corporate incentive program owners, meeting planners and third-party providers conducted in February showed a strong rebound of incentive travel in the first half of 2022, albeit with program flexibility and destination changes. Respondents, primarily from the U.S., reported the following:
• 86.5 percent had incentive travel programs in place for Q1 and Q2.
• In Q1, 50 percent were planning international programs.
• 58 percent reported program changes in Q2. Of these, 80 percent pivoted from international programs to domestic programs.
•34 percent reported program budget increases, mainly for increased hotel and air costs and health/safety costs.
•The largest decision-making factor moving forward was leadership approval, followed closely by attendee sentiment and health/safety policies.
•43 percent said attendees were more likely to travel by air more if the airlines implemented vaccine requirements, with 20 percent saying attendees would be less likely to travel by air.
Overall, the survey showed forward momentum, but flexibility is key for planners. As disruptions from COVID variants continue, according to the survey, health/ safety considerations are still major factors in decision-making and travel planning.
Even in the changed Covid landscape, this and other IRF studies point to a continued rebound of incentive programs. The IRF 2022 Trends Report conducted in late January suggests that corporate leadership understands the important role incentives play in recruiting, retaining and engaging employees in today’s volatile corporate environment. 78 percent of the total 481 respondents in that study expected their company to have an incentive-worthy financial performance in 2022, and 34 percent forecast program budget increases in 2022, up from 7 percent in the 2021 study.