Incentive Market Optimism Rises
Survey Polled More Than 2,000
Economic recovery in the U.S. is leading corporate incentive planners to increase their optimism about the remainder of 2013, according to a new survey from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). The study, which polled more than 2,000 program planners, suppliers and buyers, reports a 13-point increase among respondents who characterize the economy as having a "positive impact" on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel and merchandise programs – 56% vs. 43% six months ago.
A full 82% of those respondents expect incentive travel budgets will stay the same or increase in 2013, a positive sign for a market that had been hit hard over the past five years. In fact, 37% say incentive travel budgets will increase for the remainder of 2013, while only 18% are expecting decreases to their expenditures. In addition, innovation is playing a critical role in many incentive programs these days, either as part of the planning process or as a key outcome. Nearly half of respondents say they have an innovation strategy in place or are looking at one.
Of those incentive buyers who plan non-cash rewards programs, 31% say they're adding different merchandise this year, 30% are including experiential events as rewards, and 26% are planning to increase the value of merchandise awards in the coming months. According to the IRF survey, the top product categories in merchandise-based incentive programs are electronics (61%), apparel (49%), golf items (45%), jewelry/watches (45%), luggage (44%) and housewares (40%).