In the study of 600 business owners and managers, three out of five respondents said their employees consider their bonuses to be part of their total renumeration, while they think of merchandise and travel awards as a special form of recognition—a gift from employer to employee.

In fact, 68 percent of respondents to the survey said bonus payments can have a negative impact if they are not paid or are not large enough.

Despite the downturn in the economy, the survey shows that companies are spending more on incentive merchandise per recipient and including more people in their incentive programs as compared to 1999, when the Incentive Federation (www.incentivecentral.org) did its last survey. The two biggest growth areas: consumer programs and sales incentives.

Responding companies have grown their use of merchandise and travel in the following ways: 77 percent now use them for consumer promotions (compared to 66 percent in 1999), 82 percent use them for sales incentives (up from 78 percent); 57 percent use them for dealer incentives (up from 48 percent); and 67 percent use them for nonsales employee recognition (up from 61 percent). Individual domestic travel was the most popular choice for consumer promotions, while group domestic travel is the tool of choice for sales and dealer incentives.

For more on this survey, see the December issue of Corporate Meetings & Incentives.