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by Lisa Grimaldi | March 01, 2010

A survey of incentive professionals conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation reveals cautious optimism about programs in 2010. The online poll of 103 professionals was conducted last October-November. Among the key findings:

• Sixteen percent expected their budgets for incentive travel programs in 2010 to increase over 2009, while 30 percent said their budgets would remain unchanged.

• Nearly half (47 percent) of those who plan international incentive trips anticipated a switch from international to domestic destinations in 2010, while 44 percent anticipated no change.

• More than half (53 percent) said the economy had a negative impact on their ability to implement travel programs, vs. 69 percent in the IRF's July 2009 survey.

• Fifty-six percent anticipated an increase in the involvement of procurement and purchasing departments in incentive travel programs.

• Thirty-two percent said their budgets for merchandise/noncash incentive programs would increase moderately or slightly over 2009 numbers, while 34 percent anticipated no change.

Mark Peterman, chair of the IRF Research Committee, said, "Our sense is that companies may have been sitting on budgets for the past 10 months or so, waiting to see how things were going to play out and whether there was going to be more push-back from the media and community."