Travel still reigns as the motivator of choice for corporate America, according to a fall 2001 survey of corporate sales, marketing, and meeting executives. More than two out of three of the 339 survey respondents run at least one group incentive trip each year, and typically more than that. Companies organize an average of 3.1 group incentive trips per year, spending an average $2,250 per qualifier, according to an e-mail/Internet survey conducted by TM's sister publication Corporate Meetings & Incentives.

Those numbers may get shaken up in 2002 because of economic and security concerns. While CMI surveyed its readers less than two months after the September 11 attacks, a mere 3.2 percent of respondents had decided to cancel plans for their 2002 incentives; however, respondents expressed much uncertainty and a likelihood of program modifications. Half the respondents expected their incentive programs to go on as planned, a quarter said the program will or may be changed, and 18 percent weren't yet sure.

Uncertainty was even more prevalent when respondents were asked if they would replace travel with other motivators (specifically cash, gift certificates, or merchandise) for 2002. Forty-two percent weren't sure; 44 percent said they won't replace travel incentives; and 12 percent said they would. Of those who planned to use a different carrot, gift certificates were a slightly more popular option than cash or merchandise.

Those who use international destinations for their incentive travel program had, perhaps, the most to think about. Almost 17 percent did not plan to continue with their overseas travel in 2002, and more than 25 percent were not sure.

Not surprising, incentive travel budgets are unlikely to keep pace with inflation for 2002: About 61 percent of survey respondents expect their incentive travel budgets to be cut or stay the same as 2001.

About a third of the respondents said corporate travel policy had changed as a result of the terrorism, but only 3.6 percent said those changes were permanent.

For further survey results see Corporate Meetings & Incentives' January issue, or visit

Incentive Travel Stats

Average number of group trips per year: 3.1
Average length of trip: 4 days
Average cost per person $2,250
Average time spent planning the trip: 10 months
Percentage that uses non-U.S. destinations: 54%
Percentage that uses cruise ships: 34%
Percentage that offers incentives to nonsales employees: 43%
Percentage that includes meetings as part of some or all incentive trips: 84%

Top Incentive Destinations

  1. Florida
  2. California
  3. Nevada
  4. Arizona
  5. Hawaii

These destinations were the ones most frequently used for incentive travel programs by the respondents to the CMI 2001 survey.