Optimism. That’s what incentive travel buyers and sellers are feeling according to a new SITE Index Report on the outlook for the global incentive travel industry. “Optimism is high despite world events,” said Rhea Stagner, vice president of supplier relations and sourcing at Maritz Global Events and president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence. “Globally, the world and incentive travelers are becoming more resilient.” Safety is a concern, she said in her Smart Monday session at IMEX America, but buyers and sellers are reporting that it’s not a deterrent to a strong incentive travel market.
The SITE survey, which received 574 responses from buyers and sellers in 70 countries, had a number of other key takeaways for Stagner and her co-presenter Padraic Gilligan, SoolNua, SITE’s vice president of research and education:
Incentives work. Almost three quarters of incentive buyers (72 percent) say incentive travel programs are “very effective” compared to just half (51 percent) who said that in 2016. In a related finding, the survey also revealed that the number of buyers who are tracking return on investment and return on objective for their incentive travel programs has ticked up in the past year.
Incentive budgets are up. Sellers are seeing per-person incentive travel spending of $1,600 in 2017 versus $1,500 in 2016 while buyers reported an average spend of $4,000 per attendee in 2017 versus a $3,000 in 2016. Gilligan pointed to a large number of insurance and financial services company respondents in 2017 as a possible reason behind the large jump in buyer spending.
Destination choices. North America and Western Europe are the most popular incentive travel destinations, with the SITE Index finding gains since 2015 in the choice of Western Europe and Latin America for incentives, and losses in Eastern Europe, Mideast/Africa, Australia, and India. Most incentive travel programs (about 90 percent) are held within the client’s home region.
Destination decisions. For corporate respondents to the SITE Index survey, the “wow” appeal of a destination was the No. 1 factor in making an incentive travel destination decision, followed by safety, hotel infrastructure, and value for the dollar. The thinking was a bit different for third parties. They agreed that “wow” appeal is No. 1, but the second most important factor is value, then safety, then infrastructure.
To get the full 2017 SITE Index Report, visit the association’s website.