Renewing Prestige Travel and Redefining Risk Management

We could all use some good news these days. And we are here to deliver! The future of incentive travel is looking up. Since March 2020, professionals in the MICE and general travel industries have provided their opinions on when incentive travel will resume. Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed, a recent survey shows a positive outlook.

The Incentive Travel Industry Index is an annual survey of incentive industry professionals. It is a collaboration between Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP), the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), the Society of Incentive and Travel (SITE) Foundation, and Oxford Economics. The results are held in high regard as some of the most experienced people in the industry take part in it. Below, we recap the results and provide our insights into some of the top points.

Most respondents (66%) believe the incentive travel industry is on its way to recovery within the next one to two years. We anticipate global group incentive travel to recover within this timeline, and domestic travel to increase significantly by the end of 2021. The survey indicates that “In the short- to mid-term, domestic and close-by destinations will replace transcontinental and international incentive destinations,” said Padraic Gilligan, SITE’s Chief Marketing Officer. This means that companies need to prepare for the surge in travel by planning group trips now for later in 2021 and in future years.

Post recovery, incentive travel will have a new prestige status. We foresee the ramp-up of global incentive travel influencing the number of incentive trips offered as top tier prizes upon recovery. Travel rewards will continue to be a priority. 83% of senior-management stakeholders said they remain committed to offering incentive travel programs. We have seen individual travel, either with small groups or with family members, pick up as a top reward type in 2020.

Along with the maintained importance of incentive travel, the health and safety of participants and event employees will be of top priority. While this may seem obvious, it is an important consideration when planning budgets for travel programs. An increased level of safety and protection of attendees means more funds will need to be allocated to PPE and space in between people. We are constantly evolving our planning guides and working closely with our hotel partners to ensure a safe experience for guests.

Finally, regional situations differ in regards to how incentive travel will look post-pandemic. Western Europe expects a slower recovery (only 54% expect a one to two-year recovery), with North America (74%) and South America (71%) is more optimistic. Of course, we are keeping a close eye on the updates regarding the new strain of coronavirus and its effects on the ability to travel to any country outside of North America.

Overall, we are thrilled to see incentive travel continuing to be at the top of the list when it comes to a prestigious award for top performers. We are looking forward to seeing how incentive travel continues to evolve as local travel picks up. It is still possible to provide an unforgettable experience that winners will never forget – whether it’s through travel with family, a few peers, or a large group in the future.

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