Travel Incentives are Making a Strong Comeback

by: Nichole Gunn April 25, 2011

The recession took its toll on a number of business incentives, including travel. But, now that the market is steadily on the incline, businesses are beginning to boost up travel incentives as desirable perks that will enhance business-to-business relationships.

Incentive Magazine reports that businesses see incentive travel as a strong sales motivator, and according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the travel market has climbed to over 12 figures, and encompass over eight million partakers within the U. S. and overseas.

Between the market’s increasing strength and the willingness of businesses to choose travel incentives, business is thriving again. President and chief executive officer of Sunbelt Motivation and Travel Bill Boyd told the magazine, “Our clients [businesses] have come out of their protective cocoons and are saying we have to get back to normal because we have got to motivate our people.”

To add to the upward travel incentive swing, a number of different industries are on the band wagon. The Incentive Marketing Association’s (IMA) Incentive Travel Council reports that smaller and mid-sized organizations, as well as the larger financial institutions are re-initiating and revving up their incentive programs. This even includes the institutions that accepted funds from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Jim Ruszala, president of the IMA, told Incentive Magazine that while not all companies dismantled their incentive programs, a number of companies did postpone them. "They are absolutely starting to say they need to do this again. They found the business objectives didn’t go away, but the strategies that helped support and achieve those business objectives did. They wound up missing targets, in some cases quite strongly."

While travel incentives are making a comeback, some cost-cutting aspects are remaining the same. The magazine explains that rather than having overly structured activities, more leisurely, free-time, cost-effective structures are what’s being planned. But, activities such as spas, hotspots like New York City, and golf are still on the agenda.

Reinforcing Incentive Magazine’s report, PwC research showed that 1.7 million employees are involved in the travel incentive industry.  Data from the study revealed that the travel incentive industry produced $263 billion in revenue during 2009, and $25 billion went toward government taxes. Taking a number of factors into account, it was found that the industry “was responsible for $907 billion in U.S.-based commercial activity and 6.3 million jobs – all in a downward economic cycle.”

Director of PwC’s convention & tourism practice Robert Canton noted, "I think we can say with confidence that if we’d been conducting this study a few years ago or a few years from now, that figure would be over $1 trillion,"


About Nichole Gunn