The Incentive Industry Trends Outlook for 2010

November 2009

Background and Survey Purpose

In August 2008 it was decided that an appropriate topic for the final 2008 Pulse Survey would be an incentive industry trends outlook for 2009, Mid-Year 2009 and with the continued economic downturn, also an appropriate topic for the trends outlook for 2010.

Given that the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) is charged with advancing the science of incentives, it surveyed industry professionals to obtain their opinions about the more salient trends affecting the industry during 2009 and leading into 2010.

To this end, the IRF asked these professionals questions on trends with regard to incentive travel programs, merchandise non-cash programs, and budget changes forecast for 2010.

In addition to the current topic on industry trends, the IRF tracks core issues of continuing interest to the industry:

  • The extent to which company financial forecasts influence incentive programs;
  • The effect of competitor reactions on company incentive programs; and
  • Sensitivity to others’ perceptions of company incentive programs.

Research Methods

Invitations to participate in this online survey were sent to 618 incentive providers, suppliers to the industry and corporate incentive travel buyers.

The 103 survey participants can be categorized as follows…

  • Incentive travel provider (53%)
  • Corporate incentive travel buyer (28%)
  • Supplier, e.g., hotelier (13%)
  • Other (6%)
  • …and represents, after undeliverable emails and out of office adjustments are made, a response rate of 18.8%

Data collection was conducted October 19th through November 17th, 2009.


Findings indicate that the trends are stabilizing for each of the core issues since March 2009. However, the trends remain significantly lower than in 2008.


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