by Andrea Doyle | December 01, 2015

According to the results of Incentive's "2016 Reader Forecast survey," the new year is going to be a prosperous one. After a great 2015, things will get even better. Based on survey feedback in response to the question, "How will the number of incentive programs you will run in 2016 compare with 2015?," 13.3 percent of respondents said they will run more travel incentive programs, 15.6 percent of respondents said they will have more merchandise incentive programs, 13.6 percent said they will run more gift card incentive programs, 20 percent said they will run more employee sales recognition programs, and 24.4 percent will run more consumer loyalty programs.

How will the number of incentive programs you will run in 2016 compare with 2015? 

Another promising finding was that, for respondents, 78.7 percent of their incentive programs this year met goals/expectations and 12.8 percent exceeded them.

"There continues to be a steady increase in incentive programs," says New Brunswick, NJ-based Susan Adams, senior director of engagement, Dittman Incentive Marketing Corp., a company that provides incentives, recognition, and rewards. "Many companies have now fully emerged from the economic downturn and their senior leaders understand that employee engagement and incentive programs are vital to achieving business outcomes. Quite simply, incentive programs work. They keep employees and channel partners focused on the organization's goals and make success mutually rewarding."

Paul Gordon, senior vice president of sales at Pine Brook, NJ-based Rymax Marketing Services, agrees.

"With consumer confidence up as well as stronger-than-anticipated employment numbers, this industry has the potential for explosive growth. However, that growth will only come if the programs recognize the shift in employee and consumer behavior and build programs that truly motivate," he explains. "The one-size-fits-all mentality doesn't work with motivating an entire company and recognition is not an equal playing field. Understand your target audience, deploy segmentation and concentration strategies, and always be nimble with adjusting the program, and you will achieve that success."

Budgets in 2016 will be about the same as this year, however, which concerns Adams. "The majority of respondents reported that their budgets would stay the same, which is a potential concern. Inflation has a constant impact on program rewards and should be considere," she says. "More significant, however, is that it is no longer a buyer's market for travel. Hotels and airlines are at very high occupancy and can charge their highest rates. We are counseling our clients to keep this in mind when budgeting for programs in 2016 and beyond."

How will your overall 2016 incentive budget compare to 2015?