Incentive Travel Trends: Beaches, Luxury and Relaxation Time Are Top Preferences on IRF Survey

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Hawaii ranked number one as an incentive destination.  IRF survey of incentive qualifiers shows motivational appeal of luxury programs, with beach experiences topping the destination rankings.

Enthusiasm for group incentive travel has never been higher, according to the IRF’s 2022 study, Incentive Travel Destination Preferences & Their Impact on Motivation, conducted this this spring. The respondents, 405 full-time sales qualifiers, “indicated they are ready for air travel, cruising, returning to larger metropolitan areas, and mingling with large groups,” said IRF President Stephanie Harris.

The survey asked about several areas including perceived motivational appeal of incentive travel awards, fairness of the award process, destination preferences, and the aspects of an incentive trip qualifiers prioritized as being most important or motivating. Answers were compared with the same survey conducted in 2021.

Additionally, Cvent and 3D Cruise Partners provided booking data to determine the degree of alignment between what planners were booking and participant preferences. This data showed strong alignment between the trips that are currently booked and what participants find most motivating.

Among the results:

•91 percent of respondents found incentive travel to be extremely or very motivating, compared to 80 percent in the 2021 study.

•Given a list of incentive trip attributes to rank on importance, the top choice was a new attribute, “being given ample time to relax,” with 89 percent saying it was extremely or somewhat important.

• Consistent with last year’s results, other top incentive trip attributes were being able to bring a guest (important to 81 percent of respondents) and luxury accommodations and experiences (important to 80 percent of respondents).

• Like 2021, the highest ranked destination experience for 2022 was beach/sunshine, followed by adventure travel and mountains.

•Cruising, which ranked last as a preferred experience in 2021, rose significantly in rankings in 2022.

•Consistent with last year, the top ranked incentive destination was Hawaii, followed by The Caribbean, Western United States, and Western Europe. Mexico, which had fallen off the top 10 last year, rebounded as “the biggest riser” with participant interest increasing by a net 22 percent over 2021.

•A new follow-up question was included, asking respondents to provide a reason they chose their ideal destination. The most common answer had to do with the beauty and aesthetics of the area.

• Survey results underscored an increased interest in luxury accommodations, as well as all-inclusive resorts.

•Half the respondents considered an incentive trip of between 4-6 days to be ideal.

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