A RECENT SURVEY of incentive planners by the Incentive Federation shows that about one in four respondents runs an online incentive program — a significant gain of 19 percent from the last survey, completed in 2003. Larger companies have been the first to embrace the technology, with 44 percent of them running online programs.

Of the incentive programs that are being taken online, 59 percent are sales incentives, 35 percent are employee-recognition programs, and 26 percent are customer acquisition programs.

The survey also found that e-mail is growing as a communication method, although companies still rely heavily on their newsletters and even bulletin boards for nonsales incentives.

Survey participants are also relying more on the Internet for travel and merchandise purchases. One in 10 respondents uses the Internet for dealer and incentive prizes, and two in 10 for consumer promotions. E-commerce use is slightly higher among people who are considered “moderate” incentive users, versus those who do occasional programs.

What's holding back the companies that are not using the Internet? Most commonly, nonusers said they were either unsure of how the program would work or felt that most potential participants had limited access to the Internet.

The Incentive Federation survey is based on responses by 245 incentive users in several industries. For more, visit www.incentivecentral.org.