by Andrea Doyle | November 09, 2018

The Asia Pacific (APAC) business events sector is worth more than $200 billion and is proliferating, as is corporate incentive travel (CIT) in particular. To get a handle on this lucrative market, the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) partnered with PCMA Foundation to commission a research project called "Travel Truths for Business Events -- Corporate Incentive Travel." The project helps APAC meeting planners understand what is driving the expanding CIT market, which prefers travel over money to reward high-performing staff, particularly with Millennials. Findings of the study were presented at PCMA ICESAP Annual Conference 2018 in Bangkok.

According to the research, 50 percent of planners anticipate an increase of incentive groups traveling outside of Asia into other destinations in the next five years. The research also found that 44 percent anticipate the number of CIT programs will increase. 

Nearly one-third of CIT planners said curating unexpected "wow" experiences -- including hands-on events tailored to professional and personal growth -- have become the industry standard. Wow experiences are interactive, authentic, cost-effective, condensed, social-media-friendly and culturally aware.

The top five factors to keep in mind when planning a CIT program, according to the study, are uniqueness, cost, ease of logistics, safety and attractions. 

"The corporate incentive travel segment is proving to be a quiet phenomenon as it makes up over 25 percent of the global business travel industry and, in Australia alone, is growing at 20 percent year on year. It was obvious that this rapidly growing market would generate incredible insight and new business opportunities for incentive and meeting planners in Asia Pacific," said Karen Bolinger, CEO of MCB.

Among the findings of the study is the revelation that there is an increased need to source unusual destinations and non-major, non-first tier cities as potential incentive travel locations. The study also indicated that high levels of social media posting and engagement before, during and and after a trip contribute to higher expectations of the visitor, which means planners have to work harder to provide experiences that meet those expectations. 

"This is a pivotal moment in the business events industry as we have always understood the tremendous influence of face-to-face events and how they contribute to global economic growth and social progress, but now we have quantified the sector's power," said Sheriff Karamat, CAE, president and CEO of PCMA. "Thanks to the Events Industry Council research, which received support from the PCMA Education Foundation, MPI's Foundation and IMEX, we can begin to help those outside our industry better understand business events."

To access the entire study, head here.