The 2011 Incentive Trends Survey jointly conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Corporate Meetings & Incentives (CMI) finds incentive planners juggling new trends while they manage expectations and slow budget recovery. 

According to IRF President Melissa Van Dyke, participants were asked about travel programs, 2011 budgets and other issues of interest with these key findings:

 Budgets Improving Slightly 
  • In 2009, 63 percent of respondents said budgets were “slightly to significantly less” while, in 2010, that number dropped to 46 percent.

  • According to 72 percent of respondents, the economy was the primary reason for budget cuts. Only 27 percent attributed the cuts to negative media or public perception.

  • Budgets are expected to improve slightly in 2011. Only 22 percent of respondents expect lower budgets while more than 40 percent expect 2011 budget increases. 

Corporate Meeting Expectations Hold

The biggest challenge for planners is creating meaningful experiences despite recession-generated cuts. Planners are maintaining effective programs by carefully choosing the program aspects effected. In both 2010 and 2011, the most popular cuts included room gifts, having fewer managers attend and cutting the number of qualifiers. These changes worked as 48 percent of respondents said attendees were grateful to have the trip and 39 percent said attendees were as positive as in years past. Less than 10 percent noted dissatisfaction with the destination, service or property.

Emerging Trends

The study also looked in depth at changes for the incentive industry, highlighting the current meeting design and how it differs from 2000. The most substantive differences are reductions in per-person budgets and increased ties to corporate social responsibility. Specifically: 

  • The average per person allocation dropped from $3,256 in 2000 to $2,617 in 2010.

  • Although not even on radar in 2000, 35 percent of 2010 respondents included some sort of corporate social responsibility in their programs.  

Get more information about the survey.