Some 44 percent of executives responsible for their company's incentive spend say they will have bigger budgets to work with this year than last, while 30 percent say their spend will be about the same. Only 20 percent say they will have less money to work with this year. The results come from the "2007 Incentive Trends Survey" published by our sister magazine Corporate Meetings & Incentives.

Per-person budgets have grown 9 percent from 2005 to 2006, from $3,136 to $3,400. Almost one-quarter of respondents report a per-person budget of $5,000 or more.

GROUP SHRINK

The biggest shift came not in spending but in group size. An average of 108 people qualified for the respondents' most recent major group travel incentive, which is less than half the number reported last year. "It appears that companies are cutting the size of their groups while maintaining the quality of the incentive experience," CMI says. "Indeed, 37 percent reported cutting the number of qualifiers when budgets shrink." Companies are also getting the most out of bringing their elite salespeople or dealer/distributors together by including meetings on their trips; 76 percent of respondents say they do so.

When incentive travel budgets shrink, respondents cite "cutting back on on-site expenses" as their No. 1 survival strategy. No. 2 is "choosing less expensive destinations or hotels," followed by "inviting fewer qualifiers" and, finally, "shortening the length of the trip."

Illustration by Daniel Guidera