During the recession, travel incentives took a hard hit, especially after the American International Group (AIG) fiasco. In the midst of the economic spiral downward, and after receiving bailout funds from the federal government, AIG hosted a very expensive incentive earned a trip for its employees.
This event brought a great deal of negative publicity and public outcry over exorbitant corporate incentive spending. Other organizations, not wanting to be a part of the fallout from this negativity, took measures to steer clear of incentive travel or at the very least reduce its spending in that area. Taking this course of action left the travel incentive industry to face the consequences.
But, with the economy making a comeback, the tides of incentive travel are turning. Steve O’Malley, president of Site International Foundation, explains that “there’s much higher degree of comfort in using these tools to drive business performance and also to talk about it [. . .] Many companies, if not most, are saying it’s safe to get back in the water.”
Adding to the writing on the wall, O’Malley, who is also senior vice president of Maritz Travel, cites from his company’s data, “We have 92 percent of the 2010 volume already booked just two months into the year.”
While the upward trend for travel incentive is good news and a boost for the industry, the majority of organizations are still holding the reins a bit tight. Companies today, in the wake of record numbers of layoffs and workplace dissatisfaction, want to be viewed as business thrifty and caring.
With this type of attitude, businesses will make wiser choices. “They’ll go domestic instead of international, or stay at a Hyatt instead of a Four Seasons,” explains Harith Wickrema, incentive planner and Temple University professor.
A survey conducted by Maritz Travel reveals that 91 percent of workers acknowledge being strongly motivated to boost workplace efforts for a chance to earn trips, according to Incentives Marketplace. Even stronger evidence of the effectiveness of incentive travel, the study shows that 99 percent of participants concur that “incentive travel packages are appealing rewards.”