by Lisa A. Grimaldi | October 18, 2016

Despite the increase of terrorism and a slowing global economy, incentive travel is booming, according to the SITE Foundation's 2017 SITE Index survey. Almost two thirds (60 percent) of the 599 incentive buyers and sellers from 62 countries who participated in the survey said their firms plan increase the number of people eligible to win trips for next year's incentive programs, and about half (49 percent) plan to increase their travel budgets.  

While increased airline costs have had the greatest negative impact on programs, concerns over the economy are growing, especially among suppliers. Sixty-seven percent of sellers and 56 percent of buyers said the state of the world economy has the potential to impact their travel programs negatively. This means creating value becomes harder amidst economic concerns, and 76 percent of sellers report working on greater creativity and innovative event design in order to increase the worth of programs to their clients.

Tightening of border security and safety concerns also have had an increased impact on incentive travel decisions. Almost eight out of 10 buyers see terrorism having a negative impact on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs. European buyers are the most concerned (85 percent), followed by Asian buyers (83 percent) and North American buyers (78 precent). Similarly, a growing number of buyers, one out of four, said the tightening of border security will have a negative impact on programs.

The study also highlights a surprisingly low rate of program measurement. Fewer than one quarter of incentive buyers (23 percent) and incentive sellers (24 percent) "always or almost always track ROI," SITE reports. "Like any sound business investment, the use of incentive programs to achieve critical business objectives must have proven value to the organization," the report adds. "Buyers and suppliers appear to be missing an opportunity to prove the efficacy of their programs." 

The SITE Index points to disintermediation -- the ability and inclination of incentive-travel end users to go directly to suppliers rather than using incentive professionals -- as a factor that has hurt their companies' programs. On the incentive-buyer side, 57 percent feel this way, as do 70 percent of third-party suppliers, while only 19 percent of corporate end users agree.  

To download the full report or register for a SITE webcast to discuss the report on Nov. 17, click here.