by Leo Jakobson | September 30, 2013
Every year, Incentive gathers a group of experienced professionals from every sector of motivation, engagement, and incentives to talk about the state of the industry. On June 20, 12 participants gathered at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, FL, for some sun, sand, and serious conversation. Topics this year ranged from government regulation and return on investment to gamification and the return of luxury. 

What follows is a more detailed and extended version of that discussion regarding regulatory issues that have an impact on incentives.

INCENTIVE: A number of you have mentioned the regulatory environment. What’s going on?

JOE KELLER, President and COO, MotivAction: The regulatory environment is crushing everybody in this room and, in particular, our large clients, the Fortune 500 companies. Whether it’s on the federal level or state level, every one of them is saddled with a regulatory burden that makes it just ominous to do business. It’s created a ton of uncertainty. So what do Fortune 500 companies do in times of uncertainty? They circle wagons. And wait. And when they wait, our industry is on the outside looking in. 

It’s not that they’re not participating, but they’re participating in a much more measured fashion. ‘We won’t send 200 people, but we’ll send 150 people.’ And that difference between 150 and 200 is our profit margin. 

MIKE MAY, President, Spear One, and Trustee, Incentive Research Foundation: I think the one cloud that hangs over us in future is the Affordable Care Act. Setting aside any politics, I think most enterprise companies are going to have large healthcare premium increases next year. If enterprise companies, Fortune 1000 companies have a 20- to 40-percent increase in their healthcare premiums next year, CFOs are going to be looking for places to offset that. 

MICHAEL DOMINGUEZ, Senior Vice President, Corporate Hotel Sales, MGM Resorts International; Chair, Meeting Professionals International; and Executive Committee Member, U.S. Travel Association: You used to be able to say, ‘I’m encouraging people to be healthy and because we’re healthy we’re going to get a lower rate, because we’re using less services’. That went away with the law. You can have a company that skews very young and they get no break for that because they’re going to be sharing the cost of the older population. When you look at companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, they’re going to get a big hit and that’s going to be important for us.