by Lisa Grimaldi | November 01, 2003

Firms Spend Less on Trips

Incentive buyers spent more on merchandise rewards in 2003 but less on travel than they did four years ago, according to a study commissioned by the Naples, Fla.-based Incentive Federation, a consortium of industry associations.
   The survey, conducted by the Princeton, N.J.-based Center for Concept Development Ltd., polled 540 executives from a cross-section of industries, all of whom use incentive programs. The Incentive Federation compared the findings to results of a similar study from 1999.
   In 2003, the average cost of merchandise rewards per participant was $1,035 for dealer incentives (up from $809 in 1999), followed by $566 for sales incentives (up from $552) and $180 for nonsales recognition (up from $121).
   Travel was a different story: In 2003, trips for sales winners cost approximately $1,473 per participant, followed by $1,467 for dealers and $980 for nonsales recognition program winners.
That is a significant drop from 1999, when travel programs cost an average of $2,317 for dealers, $1,981 for sales participants and $1,070 for nonsales winners.
   “The findings indicate some travel spending is being diverted to merchandise,” said Incentive Federation executive director Howard Henry.
Changes also were noted in travel suppliers used by respondents. For sales programs, 31 percent of respondents purchased travel directly from airlines, hotels, etc., up from 23 percent in 1999. More nonsales buyers (22 percent, compared with 19 percent) went direct, too.
   In all three program categories, corporate travel agencies lost ground: They were used by 29 percent (down from 37 percent) for sales programs, 14 percent (down from 19 percent) for dealer programs and 11 percent (down from 22 percent) for nonsales programs. 

SITE Bestows Crystal Awards

The Chicago-based Society of Incentive & Travel Executives announced the winners of the 2003 Crystal Awards at a special ceremony held in September. Among those honored:
" Most outstanding program, more than 200 participants, for four nights: PGI, Vancouver (now called Destinator by PGI, Vancouver)
" Most outstanding program, five to 75 participants, five nights or more: The Incentive Consultants, based in Sydney, Australia
" Most outstanding program, more than 200 participants, five nights or more: Minneapolis-based MotivAction LLC and San Diego-based Incentive Travel LLC
" Most outstanding promotion: The Light Group, based in White Plains, N.Y.
" Most outstanding single event: St. Cloud, Minn.-based Creative Memories
" Most outstanding catered event: Harith Productions, Ltd., Oreland, Pa., and Atlantis, Bahamas.