The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) surveyed industry professionals during the month of April, asking them about incentive travel programs and merchandise/non-cash programs used to engage employees, channel partners, and customers. And the IRF's most recent Pulse Survey show that respondents are more optimistic about the current economic climate than they were in either the Summer or Fall of last year.
Key issues and trends from the most recent IRF Pulse Survey include:
• Image Issues Remain: Key "influencers" on program design, implementation and product selection that peaked in the Fall of 2008 have stabilized in 2 out of 3 areas (Corporate Financial Forecasts and Competitors' Reactions to Programs). But Sensitivity to Program Extravagance remains high, having risen from 45% to 64% between Fall 2008 and Spring 2010, making it the second most important influencer (Figure 1).
• Growth in Individual Travel: Respondents were asked if they anticipate their award strategy using more individual travel and fewer group trips, either temporarily or permanently. Although two-thirds predict no change in policy, 29% see some movement from group to individual travel. A similar question found that 24% see movement from merchandise awards to individual travel, and 21% see more use of debit/gift cards.
• Increased Involvement by Procurement: While most respondents anticipate no change with regard to the involvement of Procurement/Purchasing departments in incentive travel programs, 44% agree that their involvement will increase by some degree. Similarly, 38% say Procurement/Purchasing's involvement in merchandise/non-cash programs will increase in 2010.
For more information about the Incentive Research Foundation or its ongoing Pulse Surveys, go to www.theIrf.org.