What is in this article?:
- Annual Incentive Travel Trends Survey
- What a Difference Five Years Make
- We're in a Holding Pattern: Insights from the IRF's Melissa VanDyke
The annual Incentive Research Foundation survey, conducted in December 2012, found few differences from a year ago when it comes to company performance. Sales are slowly creeping up, with 83 percent of responding companies saying sales had increased or stayed the same in 2012—slightly more than in 2011 and 10 percent more than in 2010. Just under half (46 percent) saw sales increase, but that’s still slightly worse than in 2010, when 48 percent of respondents reported stronger sales.& Incentives/
Of course, not as many programs are being canceled as during the economic crash, but more than one in 10 companies still canceled their incentive trips.
Perhaps the biggest indication of “the new normal” comes from the budget and per-person spending figures. The amount spent per incentive attendee has fallen for four years straight, to $2,500. Looking way back to 2006, almost a quarter of respondents to this same survey were spending $5,000 per person, and 56 percent reported increases in their incentive budgets. (Only 35 percent of this year’s respondents saw increased budgets.)
The main culprit, no surprise, is the economy, according to 68 percent of those responding.
Readers have gotten creative about working within these parameters, finding ways to make their
incentive programs special year after year. Interestingly, rising to to the top among their strategies for dealing with smaller budgets is the decision to have fewer management
personnel attend the trips (reported by 36 percent of respondents), perhaps because senior management is also increasingly maxxed out due to budget cuts. Companies also continue to reduce the number of on-site gifts (22 percent), as well as choose second-tier cities, avoid five-star properties, and cut sponsored activities, such as golf (all mentioned by 19 percent of respondents).
The good news? (Yes, there is some.) A full 59 percent of respondents expect their companies’ sales to increase in 2013—a healthy increase from 2012. And 35 percent expect their incentive budgets to grow.