The Incentive Research Foundation, the former foundation of the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives, launched a year ago as an independent entity and in May hosted its first fundraiser, which drew 350 people to the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Slots for suppliers at the IRF Incentive Invitational sold out weeks before the two-day golf and networking event, which attracted buyers from the major incentive houses as well as incentive planners from FedEx, Motorola, Merrill Lynch, and other major corporations.

The Invitational is the major source of funding for the organization, which is focused on developing academic-based research that benefits the incentive industry. It included golf, tours for nongolfers, and live and silent auctions for eye-popping travel experiences.

Also for the first time, the IRF brought attendees together for a roundtable discussion on job challenges and the research that would be most helpful to them. “We wanted buyers to know that we really need their feedback,” said Ira Almeas, president of Impact Incentives, East Hanover, N.J., and IRF president. “What we found was that people were so passionate about sharing their ideas.”

The IRF will release the results of its biggest study — an overview of the incentive market that will include standardized language and profiles of users and budgets — in September, and a study assessing the effect of sales incentive programs across entire companies later this year.

To download IRF research reports, visit

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