In our office, there was some debate over this year’s joint survey with the Incentive Research Foundation, our cover story. Each of our editors focuses on a different segment of the industry, and our interpretations of the findings are influenced by the niches we cover.

For example, Editorial Director Betsy Bair had just returned from our Life Sciences Meeting Management Forum in San Diego, where attendees plan internal sales meetings that, though not pure incentives, are a combination of motivation and training. She saw the compliance issues that apply to pharmaceutical companies’ external meetings for healthcare professionals filtering down to internal meetings as well. Meeting planners spoke of being expected to create the same pizazz despite budget cuts of 15 percent.

Meanwhile, the picture looked a little brighter from the financial services side of the industry, where Senior Editor Alison Hall had just returned from the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference in Miami. There, former Dan Young, CMP, of Thrivent Financial, former FICP president, focused his opening address on “the ongoing recovery of the entire meetings industry.”

I had just spoken to my reader advisory board, made up of high-level corporate meeting managers, in early December, and found some members whose programs had been canceled a couple of years ago and still were not being reinstated, and others who were being asked to keep their programs within the 48 states. For others who have taken their programs internationally in the past, anything beyond the Caribbean and Mexico is still a tough sell.

And as I wrote this editorial, a story hit the news about the Just Born candy company from Fargo, N.D., whose incentive trip to Hawaii was canceled when salespeople didn’t make their numbers. They held it instead at...the Fargo Radisson! In the 7 degree weather, they were planning tours of two North Dakota wineries and a winter extravaganza with a sleigh ride, tobogganing, and hot toddies.

I’m pretty sure that’s the exception (and a chilly one, at that!). The state of the incentive industry lies somewhere between all of these stories—still somewhat luxe and just as motivating, despite all the cutting going on. Don’t miss the survey.

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