Last October, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) released the results of their first joint study of the global incentive travel industry. More than 1,000 respondents from 80 countries, with an average of 18 years in the industry, participated in the 2018 Incentive Travel Industry Index. Their responses yielded some key — and telling — insights about the industry.
Chief among them is the reason why incentive programs are organized in the first place. While sales and profitability remain the top reasons for incentive travel, building better relationships between employees and management rose to the second-most important objective, compared to a study the year before in which that reason took fifth place. And the value of face-to-face gatherings was reinforced in two other objectives that ranked in the top five reasons for incentive programs: to improve employee engagement and morale, and to build better relationships between employees.
Apparently, participants in incentive programs also look for the experience to help them feel better physically and mentally. Nearly nine out of 10 incentive travel buyers highlighted wellness activities like yoga and healthy meals as being a part of the program. In fact, wellness trumps CSR in terms of on-site activities. And after working so hard all year to earn an incentive trip, who could blame participants for wanting some “me” time?
Michelle Russell is Convene editor in chief.