CIM 2018/5 Spotlight

Incentives - on the rise

At IMEX America 2018, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) launched the Incentive Travel Industry Index, a research into the state of the Incentive Travel industry.

Didier Scaillet ist seit Januar 2018 SITE-CEO. Photo: SITE

Healthy growth. Partnering with Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) – two organizations with a huge focus on incentive travel – SITE produced the largest research study ever conducted on incentive travel, by volume and geographical spread.

Conducted in association with J.D. Power, the Incentive Travel Industry Index is a wide-ranging analysis of business conditions, attitudes and expectations impacting the incentive travel and motivational events industry worldwide. With over 1,000 respondents from more than 80 countries, it’s the largest survey ever conducted of senior players in the incentive travel industry, doubling responses from past individual efforts. Over half of the responses came from outside the US, over 20 per cent from Europe.

Survey respondents were balanced between incentive travel buyers and suppliers, with buyers representing incentive agencies and corporate users, while more than half of the sellers DMCs. The number of corporate end-user respondents increased by 80 per cent and of these, 40 per cent were from the financial and insurance industry, traditionally a big user of incentive travel.

Didier Scaillet, CIS, CITP and CEO for SITE since January 2018, comments on the survey findings: “Whilst incentive travel is on the rise, growth isn’t happening unchecked. For instance, costs to operate an incentive travel program are going up and over two-thirds of planners are taking steps to contain costs such as less expensive destinations or use of all-inclusive resorts. Sellers are looking to add value through creativity, innovation, and partnerships.” Didier Scaillet identifies 5 takeaways from the study:

Budgets for 2018 are up: 54 per cent of buyers report an increase in budgets with the median per person spend remaining stable at USD 4,000. Corporate users report a higher average spend (USD 8,151) versus incentive agencies (USD 5,193). The higher corporate spend is attributed to the large number of corporate buyers representing the financial and insurance sector, who are users of incentive travel.

More qualifiers than ever: Globally 65 per cent of all buyers are increasing the number of incentive program qualifiers - 58 per cent in US, 67 per cent in EU and 73 per cent in Asia. Reasons for the growth in the number of qualifiers are healthy economies and internal factors such as mergers and acquisitions. Many companies realize how much their service and support teams contribute to the organization’s overall value and are looking for new ways to deepen their relationships with employees.

Incentives as a builder of workplace culture: while sales and profitability remain top reasons to run an incentive program, findings show that companies are increasing their use of incentive travel to improve engagement and strengthen employees’ identification and emotional commitment to the company. Almost 70 per cent of buyers say their programs are effective at achieving business objectives as incentive programs help companies drive behaviour to reach their business goals, and have a positive impact on future economic investment and job growth.

All-inclusive destinations: all-inclusive destinations are on the rise particularly for incentive agencies as, for the fourth year in succession, buyers continue to seek cost reductions. All-inclusive properties are improving on their abilities to offer a more unique experience i.e. locally sourced food, drinks etc., to obtain the local experience, but still have a gastronomic experience that is amazing. Many all-inclusive properties are partnering with local DMCs to design a destination experience. It's not just about the resort anymore, but how much groups can interact with locals in the destination to maximize their experience.

Wellness is the new golf: Wellness, including yoga, is a top inclusion for incentive planners as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives drop slightly in popularity. While figures for the impact and inclusion of CSR in incentive travel programs are lower than last year, the regional story is quite different. The inclusion of CSR in incentive programs is up significantly in Europe (from 38 per cent to 43 per cent) and dramatically up in Asia (from 17 per cent to 38 per cent). Across all regions, CSR and sustainability are second only to the national economy in terms of impact on planning and implementation of incentive travel programs.