by Leo Jakobson | September 24, 2013
While the economy continues to be a detriment to incentive travel programs, it is less of one than it was last year, according to Incentive’s annual “Travel IQ Survey.”

This year, exactly one quarter of respondents say the economy caused their company to change or cancel at least some incentive travel programs, down from 29.3 percent in 2012. When asked about their criteria for evaluating potential incentive destinations, 71.9 percent of respondents overwhelmingly cited “reasonable costs/value;” last year, 78.8 percent 
cited that as a top decision-making factor. 

One way that planners have responded to economic concerns over the past five years or so has been to use more individual incentive travel programs at the expense of group travel — saving on group travel costs like food and beverage functions, daily activities, teambuilding events, room gifts, and the need to send top executives to act as hosts. 

So, it is worth noting that while the number of companies using at least some individual incentive travel programs is down slightly this year (49.6 percent in 2013, compared to 51.1 percent in 2012). And of those who are using more individual incentive travel programs, the number who said it was due to cost concerns dropped 3.6 percent, to 37.2 percent.  

Beyond that, recognizing performance displaced increasing sales as the top benefit respondents’ companies associated with their incentive travel programs for the first time in four years. And the number of respondents who said that their companies spent $1 million or more annually on their incentive travel programs more than doubled, moving from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 15.9 percent this year. 

On the High Seas
A little less than half of the respondents (47 percent) say that they turn to cruise ships for an incentive travel program at least every five years, with 20.7 percent cruising annually or every two years. That’s down slightly from last year, when slightly more than half of the respondents (50.4 percent) said they cruised, and 25.6 percent said they did so annually or every two years.

Of the cruisers, about half (50.5 percent) said they prefer to be on a large ship, down from 58.8 percent in 2012. And 17.8 percent prefer a full buyout (generally of a smaller ship), up from 13.2 percent last year.  

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