This week, on 15th October 2018, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) announced the release of the first joint study of the global incentive travel industry.

The resulting report, ‘Incentive Travel Industry Index powered by SITE Index, IRF Outlook and FICP’ provides consolidated insights into the current state of incentive travel and where it is headed. The study is a wide-ranging analysis of the business conditions, attitudes and expectations impacting the incentive travel and motivational events industry worldwide.

With over 1,000 respondents from 80 countries, it is the largest survey ever conducted of senior players in the incentive travel industry, doubling responses from past individual efforts and netting new insights based on combined questioning.

We take a look at the main takeaways from the report, and how PAEM view the survey from inside the incentive travel industry…

Key takeaways from the survey

The 5 key takeaways are:
  1. Budgets for 2018 are up over previous years
  2. More qualifiers than ever are being included
  3. Incentives are seen as a builder of workplace culture
  4. Increased use is being made of all-inclusive destinations
  5. Wellness is the new golf
1. Budgets are up
  • 54% of all buyers report increase in budgets
  • Per person median is $4,000 – same as last year, but $1,000 more than 2016 figure
  • Per person average for corporate buyers is $8,151
  • Per person average for agencies is $5,193
  • Wide range per person spend on incentives with some in the region of $50,000
2. More Qualifiers than ever
  • Globally 65% of all buyers are increasing the number of qualifiers (58% in US, 67% in EU and 73% in Asia)
  • Incentive Houses are seeing significant increases – in 2017 54% reported an increase in qualifiers, in 2018 this is 71%
3. Incentives as a builder of workplace culture
  • Sales and profitability are still the top reasons
  • “Better relationship building between employees and management” was the 5th most important objective for incentives in 2017 but it’s now the 2nd
  • Also ranking in Top 5 – “improved employee engagement and morale” and “Better relationship building between employees”
4. Increase in use of “all-inclusive” destinations
  • The number of Buyers taking steps to reduce costs has been increasing every year, moving from 73% in 2015 to 78% in 2016, 80% in 2017 and 82% in 2018
  • Use of all-inclusive destinations much more pronounced amongst Incentive Houses (48% are doing it) than corporate end users (26% are doing it)
5. Wellness is the new golf
  • When asked about “inclusions” in incentive travel programmes, 86% of buyers highlighted Wellness (Yoga, Healthy meals etc.)
  • Wellness (86%) trumps CSR (74%)
  • CSR is becoming a less significant factor, particularly with Corporate Buyers (down from 94% in 2017 to 73% in 2018)

The PAEM perspective

Whilst we accept and applaud the value and credence that this survey offers, there are some qualifications which we would add from our own perspective.

The survey quotes budgets in US Dollars which means they are not necessarily directly comparable. There is a wider choice of world class all-inclusive destinations within 3 or 4 hours’ flying time for US-based clients than for those in the UK.

At PAEM, we serve clients primarily in the UK marketplace, although larger clients are indeed international companies with headquarters in other countries and continents. The UK’s economy, commercial practices, culture and regulatory environment all reflect national characteristics that affect our clients’ business decisions.

The cultural element is probably the one that most clearly distinguishes one nationality from another. Every incentive travel programme must reflect the achievements, aspirations, tastes and expectations of the qualifiers. We are all citizens of the global community and share many interests and experiences in work and at leisure.  Improving individual performance, building team morale and unity, raising standards, productivity and profitability are all business objectives that can be supported and enhanced with tailor-made reward and recognition solutions.

Contact PAEM to understand how we ensure our incentive travel programmes reflect the audience in hand, our services and the potential benefits of performance incentives in the workplace.