by Lisa A. Grimaldi | January 01, 2014
For the U.S. incentive industry, program elements and budgets have stabilized following four years of ups and downs, according to the latest findings from the St. Louis-based Incentive Research Foundation.

The IRF's fall 2013 Pulse Survey of 254 incentive program planners, suppliers and buyers shows that 83 percent expect incentive travel budgets to stay the same or increase in 2014. The number is nearly identical to the findings of the spring Pulse Survey, released last April, in which 82 percent of respondents reported flat or moderate budget increases for 2013.

On another positive note, more than two thirds (69 percent) of those polled said the economy is having a positive impact on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel and merchandise programs. That's a jump of 13 percentage points from the 56 percent who answered the question the same way last April.

Other findings of the biannual trend survey:

• More than half (52 percent) have a negative perception of the current air transportation environment's impact on incentive travel plans.

• More than one third of respondents (37 percent) anticipate no change in the type of destinations they will use for travel programs.

• When asked about anticipated changes to accommodations, 27 percent expect no change, while 18 percent plan to start using properties that offer all-inclusive pricing.

The full findings of the survey can be found at