Steady use of incentive travel predicted for 2014

Increased optimism in the overall economy is expected to have a positive impact on companies’ ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs in 2014, according to the latest Pulse Survey conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation (

That confidence, however, is decidedly more positive among meeting and incentive travel suppliers and third-party providers than the corporate users themselves. A whopping 85 percent of suppliers and 69 percent of third-party providers expect the impact of the economy to have a positive impact on meetings and incentive travel, while only 35 percent of corporate users expect the same.

The latest pulse survey was conducted last fall. The IRF received response from 254 participants, 13 percent of which were corporate users, 21 percent suppliers and almost 60 percent third-party providers (incentive travel companies, agencies, etc.).

Sixty-five percent of corporate users anticipate no changes to their incentive travel program budgets this year, while 10 percent predicted a significant increase in budget and 15 percent expect a moderate decrease in their incentive travel budget.

Most of the respondents (37 percent) anticipate no change with respect to the program destinations for incentive travel programs in the coming year. Nineteen percent state they will pick locations closer to home. Interestingly, 15.8 percent expect to switch from international destinations to domestic locales and the exact same percentage expect to go the opposite way, trading in domestic locations for international sites.

Cost control is evident, but drastic cuts are not part of the mix. Eighteen percent of respondents anticipate a change to “all inclusive” pricing options for the accommodations portion of incentive travel programs in the coming year. Also, 13 percent anticipate a reduction in the number of days/nights in programs, while 11 percent expect reductions in the number of rooms needed per program. Another cost-control step — the reduction in on-site inclusions per participant — is expected by 11 percent of respondents.

Despite all of the talk about the increasing popularity of individual incentive travel, a whopping 95 percent of corporate users that responded to the IRF survey stated they do not anticipate a change in strategy moving from group trips to individual travel packages.