New SITE Research: Qualifiers Choose Incentive Travel as Top Reward

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Preferences for sun and international destinations were the top destination choices in the Participant inSITE study.What motivates incentive attendees? Results of SITE’s  Participant inSITEs study of 825 qualifiers worldwide rank international and beach destinations high on the list, along with plenty of free time.

Speaking at IMEX Frankfurt, SITE CEO Annette Gregg, CMM, MBA, announced two new research initiatives. Launching soon is the 2023 Incentive Travel Index survey, in partnership with the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). And results are in for SITE Foundation’s latest in-house research project, Participant InSITEs.

“As the only industry association focused exclusively on incentive travel, the research reflected in these two projects is an integral part of SITE’s mission to advance the business case for incentive travel,” said Gregg.

Participant inSITEs is the final part of a research series that investigates the nature, purpose and direction of incentive travel from different industry perspectives. In partnership with an MBA student research team from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, results from 825 travel reward earners in 11 countries were collectively analyzed and also broken down by region where appropriate. The study delves into what types of destinations, activities and intangible benefits make incentive travel feel like a true reward for qualifiers.

Study respondents stress repeatedly that incentive travel motivates them to do a standout job. In both the survey responses and in qualitative follow-up interviews, the power and pull of desirable destinations emerges as their strongest motivational driver.

Study Results

Among the SITE study takeaways:

• Asked whether they prefer travel rewards or cash bonuses and gifts, respondents across all regions overwhelmingly picked incentive travel. Fully 86 percent said they are motived overall to qualify for the incentive travel programs offered by their companies or partners and 62 percent of North American qualifiers said they are extremely motivated.

• Most respondents receive monthly communications about their incentive travel programs. 62 percent are satisfied with that frequency and close to one-third would be open to more frequent communications. Only 6 percent are looking for less communication from their companies about incentive travel. Rather, they’re open to receiving more frequent updates by social media, phone calls, or via text/SMS/WhatsApp messages.

• Respondents cited the rewards of incentive travel for their careers: 78 percent feel more engaged with their company, 76 percent feel more fulfilled in their role and 63 percent report making career-advancing connections.

•Qualifiers ranked “international” and “sunny/beach” destinations as their top incentive trip preferences, followed closely by “resort” and “culturally unique”.

• Many respondents cited travel to and from an incentive trip location as one of the few things they consistently dislike about incentive travel rewards.

•Top-ranking activities of North American qualifiers were “free time” and “time with spouse,” followed by “immersive cultural activities.”

• “Cherished memories” was the top intangible benefit cited by North American respondents, followed by “quality time with spouse.”

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