Bill Boyd of Sunbelt Motivation
For the first time in two years, planners say
they are seeing some signs of a turnaround in their incentive
“It looks like business is improving over the mess that was
2003,” said Bill Boyd, CMP, CMM, CITE, president & CEO of
Sunbelt Motivation & Travel Inc. in Irving, Texas. “Our 2004
looks good not great, but good and certainly 10 to 20 percent up
As for program specifics, Boyd expects to see an end to the
tactic of firms opting to make their contests more difficult so
fewer people qualify. But another recent trend, he said, is still
strong: Companies are continuing to use less expensive hotels and
resorts for their programs.
More participants will qualify for programs, agreed Mimi
Almeida, president of San Francisco-based R/A Performance Group,
“but budgets still are being tightly scrutinized,” she added.
Among other observations from industry insiders:
" More incentive planners are turning to all-inclusive resorts
to maximize their budgets this year, said Morag Donald, senior
consultant, travel, for Maritz Canada Inc. in Mississauga,
" Both Morag Donald and Adam Lawhorne, president of Meeting
Incentive Experts based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., have noted
program lengths are increasing slightly, from three or four nights
to four or five nights in length.
" North American destinations remain popular with incentive
groups. “Most of our groups are sticking close to U.S. shores,”
said Bill Boyd. “Some programs are going to the Caribbean, some to
Mexico and a few to Canada, but more than half of our business will
be domestic in 2004 and 2005.”
" Clients have grown tougher skins over the past few years.
“Participant cancellations due to fear of travel are down as we
learn to live within a new world,” said Mark Bondy, president of
Traverse City, Mich.-based VIKTOR Incentives & Meetings.