Largest-Ever Incentive Buyers’ Survey Reveals Trends and Useful Insights

November 5, 2018 Kevin Edmunds

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Earlier this year, the three organizations most deeply involved in the incentive-travel industry (SITE Foundation, Incentive Research Foundation, and Financial and Insurance Conference Planners) pooled their resources to have J.D. Power conduct research among 1,000 incentive-travel buyers.

The results have just been released, so we now have detailed intelligence about the incentive buyer’s environment as well as the perception of incentive travel among their employee audience—such as the strong impact incentive travel has on sales teams and on overall employee engagement.

Here are some of the most revealing findings:

  • Fifty-four percent of buyers report an increase in budgets year-over-year.
  • Sixty-five percent of buyers are increasing the number of incentive program qualifiers, fueled by company growth and optimism in the economy.
  • While the average per-person spend remains stable at $4,000, corporate users report a higher average spend ($4,550) than incentive agencies.
  • Two-thirds of corporate users and more than 80 percent of incentive agencies are taking cost management steps, such as using less expensive destinations (30 percent), all-inclusive destinations (26 percent) or less-expensive amenities.
  • Sales and profitability remains the top reason to run an incentive program, but more importance is being given to building relationships between management and employees to increase productivity and employee engagement.
  • An overwhelming majority of buyers say their incentive travel programs have been “very effective” or “somewhat effective” in achieving their most important objectives, although only one-quarter always measure program results.
  • Impact on the personal and professional development of the qualifier is the most important outcome of incentive travel programs both for buyers and sellers.
  • While 39 percent of buyers say their programs always include a meeting component, this percentage doubles to 78 percent for financial and insurance companies. These organizations also spend more per person—$6,000 vs. $3,950 for all other industries.

One last point that’s very important: For respondents who said their firm’s use of incentive travel decreased, a downturn in business was given as the top reason. However, other research has shown that increasing the use of incentive travel in slow times is the fastest way to turn that situation around.

Here at All Inclusive Collection, we host incentive groups from dozens of industries on a regular basis. So if you’d like to hear more about what we’re seeing at our properties in Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Miami, and how we can apply the best practices of those incentive programs to yours, I’d be happy to speak with you. Contact me at meetings@aichotelgroup.com.


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