Travel incentive

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Travel incentives are a reward subset of an incentive, recognition or a loyalty program, which is a business tool used to change behavior to improve profit, cash flow, employee engagement and customer engagement.

When an organization properly designs an incentive program, which includes looking at all departments which will be affected, rather than just the impact to the department that is sponsoring the incentive, the return on investment can be proven.[1] Incentive travel investments yield a return of investment of more than $4:$1.[2] and executives state that in order to achieve the same effect of incentive travel, an employee’s total base compensation would need to be increased by 8.5%.[3]

The Incentive Research Foundation released a study "The Anatomy of a Successful Incentive Program" in 2010. This study follows the steps that this organization took to ensure that they received a return on their investment; they successfully merged acquired organizations into their company and that they successfully merged their incentive programs.


The anticipation of a reward inspires incentive program participants to change their behaviour to receive the reward. A travel reward is unique from other types of rewards because it is experiential. The anticipation of the experience drives behaviour in a way that other rewards can't. A cash reward is often absorbed into the participant's day-to-day budget and is then forgotten about. However, a travel incentive reward contributes to behaviour change because of its appeal.

  • 9.1 out of 10 participants (2009) agree that the "Opportunity to earn incentive program encouraged me to increase my efforts"
  • 9.2 out of 10 (2009) agree that "I gain value from incentive travel programs by networking and interacting with other attendees and hosts"
  • 9.5 out of 10 (2009)agree that "Travel is Appealing as a Reward"

Economic impact[edit]

Incentive trips, meetings and events account for 15% of all travel spending, which creates 2.4 million jobs, $240 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Incentive travel generates about $13 billion a year, according to the Incentive Research Foundation.[4]

The economic impact and the AIG Effect have negatively affected incentive travel programs, with spending on incentive travel being reduced.[5]

Future of incentive travel[edit]

The latest research the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE) indicates that 46.9% of respondents agree and 38.8% strongly agree to the statement "Trends indicate the focus on Return on Investment measurement is increasing"; 45% of respondents believe it is likely that firms who do not track results will cease using motivational events; and 73.5% of respondents want to learn how to build ROI/ROO into the program design and that.[6]

Associations for Incentive Travel Professionals

  • Incentive Travel Council a Strategic Industry Group within the Incentive Marketing Association.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Trade shows
Research foundations