Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2023

Incentive Travel Budgets and Programs on the Upswing

While the destination may be more domestically oriented than in the past, corporate incentive programs are looking good for the first half of 2022. An Incentive Research Foundation Pulse Survey of 180 mostly U.S.-based corporate incentive program owners, meeting planners and third-party providers found the vast majority — more than 85% — had incentive travel programs in place for Q1 and Q2. While half of those Q1 travel incentives were international, the majority of incentive planners who reported changing their programs for Q2 said they were moving from an international to a domestic destination.

And budgets are looking good too. The IRF’s 2022 Trends Report found incentive budgets expected to increase by more than a third — 34% — this year, a significant uptick from the 7% who said the same in the 2021 IRF study. Per-person spending also is up from $764 in 2021 to $806 in 2022, though some of that $42 per-person increase is due to ongoing inflation, inventory, workforce and supply-chain challenges.

During a recent IRF webinar, panelist Richelle Suver, IRF Research Committee Chair and Vice President, Incentives & Recognition, One10LLC, emphasized that the incentive budget increase shows that companies have gained a better understanding of how incentives are more than just a reward for sales performance. “They are a tool for communication and engagement, and there’s a pent-up desire for companies and individuals to get back out there and reinvigorate programs that maybe had to be put on hold over the last year or two,” she said.

While hybrid incentive programs can be a good way to bring people together, they don’t give remote attendees a chance to mingle with an organization’s leadership as well as network with each other, a key benefit of incentive travel. And incentive travel is still a great way to motivate employees, the panelists said. In fact, 98% of respondents said group travel was extremely or very motivating.

Destination selection is still a bit fraught, however, between continual changes in COVID travel regulations, especially internationally, as well as labor and staffing shortages and supply-chain snags, all of which are expected to continue for the short term. But with corporate leadership laser-focused on workforce recruitment and retention nowadays, travel incentives should be an increasingly attractive option, the IRF webinar panelists agreed.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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