by Leo Jakobson | October 03, 2011
If there was one statistic that stood out in this year’s Travel IQ report, it was that budgets were way down in 2011 compared to 2010. This was especially noticeable at the top and bottom ends of the scale. 

The number of companies whose incentive travel budgets were $50,000 and lower jumped from around 25 percent in 2010 to nearly 50 percent this year. And the number of survey respondents with programs that possessed budgets of $1 million and higher dropped to just 8.5 percent in 2011, exactly half the number of a year ago. 

There were other signs. The number of companies that switched from group travel programs to individual travel was similar to last year, but those who said cost concerns were behind the change jumped from 34.6 percent in 2010 to 48.3 percent in 2011.

The best explanation for the budgetary pinch may be timing: many incentive travel programs in 2011 were based on 2010 sales results and planned in 2009, the height of the economic downturn. Indeed, many planners noted the incentive travel rebound lags the broader meetings market, and the latter picked up this year. Many hoteliers said incentive bookings are strong for 2012 and 2013, and those programs are based on sales this year and next year. 

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