Millennials were on everyone’s mind at a session on emerging trends during education day at the Incentive Research Foundation Invitational, held May 28–June 1 at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort in San Jose del Cabo on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. According to the IRF’s chief research officer, Rodger Stotz, 21 percent of consumer spending is done by Millennials—the under-35 crowd is now outspending even the Baby Boomers. And, he said, while they still can be brand-loyal, they look for brands that have a purpose, that are trustworthy, that align with their values. In a poll of the IRF audience, 67 percent said they are developing new programs just for Millennials.

When it comes to incentive travel, research from Wharton finds that experiences that align with their sense of who they are make Millennials happy, said Stotz. They value unique experiences that are rare but extraordinary, where the over-45 folks value more ordinary experiences like dinner with family and having free time to spend with friends and family.

Millennials expect leading-edge technology and, because they spend a lot of time in the virtual world, they may question the need for face-to-face meetings. “We have to prepare for that,” he said, by providing experiences that, to quote Steve Jobs, are “amalgrams of entertainment and education, problem-solving and theater, motivation and meaning.”

Other trends to keep an eye on:

• An IRF poll conducted in May found that 50 percent of incentive planners are still concerned about a perception of extravagance.

• In the same poll, 55 percent of respondents said their budgets are increasing for 2014 and beyond, and the same percentage said interaction with procurement is on the rise. CSR and social media adoption both showed slight increases, he said.

• Corporate wellness programs are becoming a norm, with 90 percent of companies reporting they have wellness programs in a recent joint IRF-MeetingsNet Annual Incentive Trends Survey. However, only 30 percent said they include wellness in their incentive programs.