THE PROFILE OF the typical incentive program goes something like this: A 12-month campaign, designed to increase sales across the board, has as its reward a group travel program to a domestic destination. The CEO selected the destination, and an in-house team handled the logistics. Just over 200 employees qualified for the trip, and per-qualifier spending topped $2,650.

That's a quick snapshot of some of the aggregate results of our Corporate Incentive Trends survey, which took the pulse of in-house corporate event planners. The survey shows that a third of respondents are designing incentives to deal with targeted goals such as growing product awareness or increasing sales of a particular product; that only one in four respondents is outsourcing to partners such as incentive houses and independent planners to help with incentive travel logistics; that a full 50 percent of respondents' current or upcoming major incentives are planned for international destinations or a cruise ship; and that 75 percent of site-selection decisions for incentive travel are made either by C-level executives or by sales and marketing management.

Most respondents (81 percent) geared their incentive programs to salespeople, and about a third (35 percent) ran dealer/distributor programs, but other workers were not forgotten. Half the people who answered our survey had incentive programs in place for their nonsales employees.

“Increasing overall sales” was far and away the reason for launching an incentive program in the eyes of most readers. It is interesting to note, however, that about a quarter have a more niched goal for their programs. Respondents wrote in a variety of “other” primary goals for their incentive programs, most of which fell into two categories: “reward high achievers” or “education.”

WHERE TO?

We asked where respondents had taken their last major group incentive program and, if they knew, where the next two were booked. More than 80 individual destinations got a mention, from Napa, Calif., to Naples, Fla., to Hilo, Hawaii, in the U.S. and a broad range of international sites: Barcelona, Hong Kong, Nevis, Nassau, Rome and many more. While the quality of the resort and many other factors play a role in site selection, clearly warm weather is critical to most destination decision-makers. Canada, which had made a good showing in past surveys, fell off the list of top sites. Respondents are reporting growing enthusiasm for Mexico incentives, strongly booking the Cancun and Los Cabos areas in particular.




How we did it: In November, Primedia Business Marketing Research e-mailed invitations to participate in an online survey to a selection of in-house corporate planner subscribers who have responsibility for incentive travel programs. A follow-up e-mail was sent a week later. The results here are based on 148 useable responses. The article first appeared in our sister publication CMI.