The Incentive Travel Index, a survey of 1,417 incentive travel professionals, reveals shifting priorities for program design and site selection moving forward.
Survey results of the recently released 2022 Incentive Travel Index, the fourth joint initiative of Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP), the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and the Foundation of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE Foundation), showed confidence in the strategic benefits of incentive programs, despite deepening concerns about inflation.
With industry buyer and seller respondents from 74 countries, the survey categories covered program design, destination selection, the strategic role of incentive travel, and charting the recovery moving forward. Results were analyzed for North America and for the rest of the world. “Program design continues to evolve, and we can clearly see shifting preferences impacting program inclusions as a more diverse workforce become qualifiers. For example, we saw wellness emerge as a key program activity,” said Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) President Stephanie Harris. “While activities that promote relationships was the top choice across the industry, we see some interesting differences across regions. A key difference is that sustainability and CSR opportunities were considered more important by industry professionals outside of North America.”
Among other survey results:
• The top two site selection criteria for buyers was value for money (98 percent), followed by safety (87 percent).
• 80 percent of all respondents said that incentive travel is gaining strategic importance. 69 percent said it is increasingly important for meeting professionals to have a “seat at the table.”
• 66 percent of buyers reported that they are shifting future programs toward a greater focus on “soft” benefits, such as company culture, engagement and relationships. 91 percent of all respondents agreed that, with a dispersed workforce, these benefits have become key to program success.
• 67 percent of North American buyers have already resumed incentive travel programs in international locations.
• More than 50 percent of North American buyers expect incentive travel activity to fully recover by 2023.
• 61 percent of all buyers said they expect incentive travel activity will recover above, or significantly above, 2019 levels by 2024.
• 80 percent of all survey respondents cited rising costs/inflation as a future challenge facing incentive travel professionals.
• A significant number of programs are staying close to home: 53 percent of North American buyers plan to increase their use of destinations in the United States, 51 percent in the Caribbean, 47 percent in Mexico and 43 percent in Hawaii.
• 72 percent of all survey respondents said activities that promote relationship building are key to successful programs, followed closely by 66 percent who cited group cultural sightseeing experiences and 58 percent who cited luxury travel/bucket list experiences.
• 91 percent of all buyers predicted the use of traditional, qualification-based incentive programs will continue or increase.