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Good news for incentive travel believers: there’s less bad news

The Incentive Research Foundation’s 2012 Pulse Survey (conducted in September 2012) indicates that spending trends stabilized compared to the previous four survey periods.

•  A whopping 63% state they have a negative perception of the current air transportation environment and its impact on their incentive travel plans. (The sliver of hope is that number is down from 71% who expressed a negative perception of the state of air transportation in a March 2012 survey.)

•  Most of the respondents (45%) anticipated no change with respect to their program’s destinations for incentive travel in the coming year. However, 16% anticipated a change from international to domestic and 15% planned to pick locations that were closer to home. There has been a significant decrease in companies downgrading from international destinations to domestic since 2010.

•  21% of respondents anticipate reducing the on-site inclusions per participant in the coming year.

•  21% indicate the total number of days/nights will be reduced.

•  18% indicate the number of rooms will be reduced.

•  Nearly three-fourths of respondents (73%) do not anticipate changing (either temporarily or permanently) from group trips to individual travel packages in the coming year.

•  53% of the respondents indicated that North America was their chosen region for Incentive Travel Destination programs. Top international destinations include the Caribbean (46%), Europe (41%) and Central America (16%).

For incentive travel suppliers and the sales reps who keep hoping for the return of their annual incentive travel program, the hope is that stabilization is the precursor to a more significant rebound.

Invitations to participate in the IRF’s online survey were sent to 2,461 incentive providers, suppliers to the industry and corporate incentive travel buyers. Of the 246 survey respondents, 57% were incentive buyers (corporate planners, managers and incentive companies) and just under 34% were suppliers (hotels, airlines, DMCs, etc.). The remaining 9% stated they were not regularly involved in incentive programs. Full results can be found at