Incentive Travel Industry Index Preview

incentive travel industry index

The initial findings of the annual Incentive Travel Industry Index, joint research between the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence Foundation, the Incentive Research Foundation and Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals, showed a hint of optimism—but still a long road back to what will be a very different incentive industry.

Attendees at the IRF’s virtual UNvitational this week caught a sneak preview of the findings of this year’s Incentive Travel Industry Index, due out December 10. A panel with Stephanie Harris, president of the IRF; Pádraic Gilligan, CMO at SITE; Steve Bova, executive director at FICP; and Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics shared some of the highlights.

Among them:

• Domestic incentive travel is expected to return during the second half of next year; however, international incentive travel is not expected to fully recover until 2025.

• Incentive travel budgets in 2020 were at just 29 percent of 2019 levels. That will grow to 59 percent of 2019 levels in 2021, 82 percent in 2022, and return to normal by 2023.

• 64 percent of respondents have a desire to travel again after having been restricted all year, but the challenge is cuts in corporate spending overall and corporate policies against travel.

• Incentive travel won’t look the same when it returns: 12 percent of respondents expect  post-Covid incentive travel to be “very similar” relative to pre-Covid; 23 percent say it will be “fundamentally changed”; and 65 percent say tit will be “moderately different.”

• Partners on the ground will be more important than ever: “The presence of a good DMC” ranked third out of 18 possible ways that incentive travel programs will shift as a result of Covid-19.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.