by Lisa Grimaldi | September 01, 2004
Kevin MitchellIncentive programs are most likely to take place in the spring, incorporate a weekend and exclude participants’ children, according to a study of organizations that offer incentive or recognition awards.
    The findings were gathered in July by the Business Travel Coalition, a Radnor, Pa.-based advocacy group for corporate travel managers. It was the first such study by the association, which surveyed planners at 55 of its member companies, most of them U.S.-based Fortune 200 firms.
    Kevin Mitchell, BTC chairman (right), launched the study at the request of a member in the manufacturing field who wanted to know if his competitors were beefing up their incentive programs following a several-year lull.
    Among the key findings:
    " More than half (52 percent) of respondents expect their budgets will increase next year; the average boost they anticipate is 8.9 percent over their 2004 budgets.
    " The average amount sponsors spend on each qualifier and guest is $5,806.
    " Seventy-seven percent do not allow children to come on programs.
    " Four nights/five days is the most typical length of a program, cited by 43 percent of respondents.
    " Spring is the most popular season for programs (cited by 48 percent of respondents), followed by winter (35 percent).
    " Senior management has the most influence in selecting a destination, as noted by 66 percent of respondents, while 17 percent said planners held the cards.