10 Incentive Travel Facts You Can Use

10 Incentive Travel Facts You Can Use

In honor of Global Meetings Industry Day April 6 the IRF has compiled 10 Incentive Travel Facts everyone should know in 2017

  1. 38% of all U.S. Firms over $1MM in revenue use incentive travel to motivate their people and partners. (Incentive Federation)
  2. U.S. firms spend over $14B Annually on incentive travel. (Incentive Federation)
  3. Net Optimism Score for incentive travel in the fall of 2016 was 26%, meaning the industry is still moderately positive about the outlook for incentive travel (Read More)
  4. As of fall 2016, per-person incentive travel budgets are most commonly between $3,000 and $4,000, although about 40% of the industry spends more.  (Read More)
  5. Average per-person spend has increased by 5% annually since fall 2014. (Read More)
  6. Most commonly selected destinations for incentive group travel are now the USA, Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe, showing a return to long-haul destinations. (Read More)
  7. Analysis shows that the economic Net Optimism Score for incentive travel tracks closely with overall U.S. economic performance, often acting as a leading indicator. (Read More)
  8. Almost 60% of planners have experienced some form of disruption in their events, estimating that almost a quarter of their events have been affected in some way. (Read More)
  9. Planners view “Flawless Execution” as the #1 way their most trusted Hotel Partners add value; Hoteliers view “Providing a Strong Vision” as the #1 way their most trusted Planner Partners add value to the relationship. (Read More)
  10. Although Planners and Organizations are enthusiastic about wellness, there is often a disconnect in implementation.

Bonus:  On average, employees most selected large award. (i.e. delivered after a  year-long effort or major accomplishment.)  Was travel and experiences…beating out cash.  (Read More)

The Hotelier Planner Relationship: A View From Both Sides

Advancing the incentives industry requires building stronger, better partnerships throughout the program delivery cycle. The most recent IRF-Prevue study shows that although the hotelier-planner relationship is most often collaborative and supportive while delivering meetings and incentive programs, there are a number of opportunities for improvement throughout the discovery, RFP, and execution phases of the relationship.


Best Companies See More Value in Incentives

Best Companies See More Value in Incentives

Research previewed at the IBC show found top performing firms see incentives more strategically

by Leo Jakobson | July 11, 2017

The fourth annual Incentive Buyers Conference (IBC) kicked off with a look at how much attention the best performing companies pay to their incentive, recognition, and reward programs.

Incentive’s hosted buyer show takes place July 10-12 at the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel in Florida.

Based on research to be published in August by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), the study — “10 Things Top Performing Businesses Do Differently in Recognition and Reward Programs” — showed quite clearly that the most successful firms view incentive programs as a strategic business advantage, not just as a sales tool.

“No one wants to be average,” said Melissa Van Dyke, president of the IRF. “That’s not a goal. Everyone wants their company to be a top performer.”

So the IRF set out to look at what top performing companies do differently when it comes to their sales, channel, and employee reward and recognition programs. Instead of using a pre-set list like the Fortune 500, the IRF surveyed 400 companies and found 177 that met its definition of top performers: at least 5 percent annual growth in either revenue or stock price as well as 90 percent customer and employee satisfaction scores.

What the study found, Van Dyke said, is that when it comes to non-cash reward and recognition programs. Top performing companies do a lot of things differently. Starting with how likely they are to use these incentive programs. And how important they feel those programs are to their success.

Top companies use non-cash rewards and recognition in 90 percent of their sales programs compared to 75 percent of average firms; 81 percent vs. 59 percent in channel sales; and 88 percent vs. 77 percent in employee loyalty and engagement programs. Beyond that, fully 93 percent of the top performing companies surveyed strongly believe that their non-cash reward and recognition programs are a strategic advantage. Compared to just 63 percent of average firms, she said.

That strategic viewpoint translates into how well organized those programs are, Van Dyke added. Highly successful companies are far more likely to have all of their programs organized under a single umbrella.   350 percent more likely when it comes to sales incentives and 250 percent more for employee recognition programs. On the other hand, they are substantially less likely to use service anniversary programs. With only 39 percent celebrating years of service, compared to 51 percent of average performing firms.

Another strategic difference is that the best companies are twice as likely to design their reward and recognition programs to have the broadest reach possible. With 56 percent aiming to include as many employees as possible rather than just focusing on top performers.   “The top performing firms also single out top salespeople, channel partners, and employees,” she noted. “They just don’t do it exclusively.”


MEETINGS FINANCIAL & INSURANCE MEETINGS. Scottsdale welcomes financial and insurance meeting groups with a refined Sonoran Desert setting, idyllic weather, quality accommodations and meeting facilities, unique off-site venues and hassle-free transportation, both in the air and on the ground. Top it all off with a hospitality community that extends VIP-level service to both you and your clients, and you have the ideal destination for your next program.

Scottsdale has a long history of hosting successful financial and insurance meetings, including:

  • Incentive/Chairman’s Circle & President’s Club
  • CEO Forums
  • Broker Forums
  • Advisor Due Diligence
  • Board of Directors Meetings
  • Leadership Meetings

When it comes to creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for your group, Scottsdale makes it easy with a refined Sonoran Desert setting, idyllic weather and a host of exceptional offerings.

At Experience Scottsdale, we’re here to help you with a wide array of complimentary services. Submit an RFP today and find out just how effortless planning your Scottsdale program can be!

Traveling to Scottsdale

There’s no doubt about it – business travel can be challenging these days. But thanks to the robust air-lift offerings, award-winning staff and passenger-friendly amenities at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, as well as first-class corporate jet services at Scottsdale Airport, getting your clients to and from Scottsdale has never been easier.


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is located 10 miles west of downtown Scottsdale, which means your group is only minutes from the city’s finest hotels, resorts and meeting facilities. Recently named “America’s Friendliest Airport” by passenger vote and also previously ranked the “Top Airport in the Country” by Newsweek Daily Beast (2010), Sky Harbor serves more than 40.5 million passengers each year and offers the following services and amenities:

  • Nonstop service to more than 80 domestic and 21 international destinations
  • More than 1,200 daily arrivals and departures, making Sky Harbor one of the nation’s 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic
  • 17 major airlines, including Southwest, American Airlines, United, Delta and British Airways
  • Free wireless Internet in all terminals
  • A full-service Rental Car Center housing 11 companies under one roof. With the capacity to hold 5,600 cars ready for customer pickup
  • Three spacious terminals that house an exciting mix of more than 50 retail shops. 35 eateries and 11 restaurants and bars, including new local offerings like Blanco Tacos + Tequila and Barrio Café

So conveniently located nine miles north of downtown Scottsdale and just minutes from world-class resorts, award-winning restaurants and championship golf courses, Scottsdale Airport is the ideal choice for corporate jet travel. This premier airport is one of the nation’s busiest single-runway facilities, recording more than 133,000 takeoffs and landings each year. The airport’s two fixed-base operators, Landmark Aviation and Scottsdale AirCenter, provide superb facilities, outstanding maintenance and impeccable customer service. And thanks to the airport’s new US-VISIT customs service. Which features state-of-the-art biometric identification techniques. Properly visa’d business travelers from all over the world can now fly into and out of Scottsdale Airport with ease.


For more info 


What’s Changing (and What’s Not) in Incentives Today

What’s Changing (and What’s Not) in Incentives Today.

The 2017 Trends Study just released by the Incentive Research Foundation identifies 10 key areas of change—and their implications for workforce engagement, incentive travel, and recognition. The full report is available for download from the IRF website.

Continue reading “What’s Changing (and What’s Not) in Incentives Today”

Next Level’ Experiences Among Top 10 Incentive Trends for 2017

Next Level’ Experiences Among Top 10 Incentive Trends for 2017

The RIF has released its 2017 Trends Study, which highlights 10 key trends that will affect organizations, their products and services, and the workforce this year.

Special Events Staff | Feb 02, 2017

“At a time when the pace of economic change continues to accelerate. The IRF is tracking some essential shifts in the industry,” said IRF president Melissa Van Dyke. “The 2017 Trends Study also provides actionable suggestions so that business can leverage these trends to gain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing business landscape.”

IRF says that individualized experiences that key on emotion will be the “next level” of experiences. “Tapping emotional engagement through a strategic choice of rewards and incentives is a powerful way for businesses to motivate their stakeholders,” the report says.

Another major challenge: The fear of threats—from terrorism to foul weather—affecting incentive events. Almost 60 percent of planners have experienced some form of disruption in their events. Estimating that almost a quarter of their events have been affected in some way.

Other top trends, says IRF:

  • The increasing demand for non-cash rewards and recognition
  • Mastering the changing and challenging regulatory environment
  • Adapting to new technology
  • Industry consolidation
  • Increasing globalization

Continue reading “Next Level’ Experiences Among Top 10 Incentive Trends for 2017”

2016 Chicago Cubs and Great Meeting Teams Have in Common

2016 Chicago Cubs and Great Meeting Teams Have in Common. Before the 2016 World Series is a distant memory, I want to share my observations about what made the Chicago Cubs so great and how those qualities translate to great meetings and events teams.

1. During the locker room celebration, Cubs executive Crane Kenney proudly proclaimed that culture eats strategy for lunch. Culture starts from the top, with leadership setting the tone for willing followers. There can be great strategy, but without inspired people who genuinely love their jobs and who are empowered to execute, strategy is nothing more than an idea.

2. But…strategy is important! You have to have a grand vision (what you aspire to be) and a well-articulated plan for how to get there. Culture and strategy work in tandem: With a poor culture, the plan is going nowhere fast. Both are key to any organizations success, and meeting planning is no exception.

3. Pay attention to the details. In baseball, players simply need to react to the ball. However, those who rely on Sabermetrics—baseball’s version of Big Data—have a better chance at success. Good planners combine an eye for the big picture with a knack for knowing the details.

4. Balance matters. The Cubs, by design, had a good mix of veterans and rookies. There was a group of players who had been there before and knew what to do and those who were curious to know what it means to win it all. Experience and exuberance continually proves itself to be a worthy combination. Successful meetings teams aren’t comprised just of seasoned professionals.

Luck is not an accident

5. Luck is not an accident, and neither is success. Sometimes the ball bounces in funny ways, or the rain comes at an opportune (or inopportune) time. Great teams seem to get the breaks, but the reality is they are prepared for any situation that comes their way. They are resilient and are rarely caught off-guard.

6. Shedding is growing. The Cubs had to let go of a lot of talented players over the years to get the right people in place and in the right order. Great meetings and event teams are not those that continually try to do the same thing, but those that take calculated risks and dare to be different. Letting go of the right things creates new opportunities and keeps events fresh.

7. Good things often take time—well, not usually 108 years!—and sometimes it is the journey, rather than the destination, that matters the most. Quality and success do not happen overnight. There is no such thing as the perfect meeting. Planners learn from their mistakes. Sometimes having a few bad events makes the great ones more satisfying.

8. Many Cubs played multiple positions during the year and didn’t complain, although they may have had expertise at one position. Versatility is valuable. The most valued meeting professionals may be great at one thing while simultaneously demonstrating their breadth by adapting to virtually any situation.

Relax and have fun

9. Relax and have fun. Nobody performs well when they are stressed. Cubs manager Joe Maddon often created dress-up themes for road trips to keep the players loose. Meeting planning may be among the most stressful professions, but at least you don’t have a 90-mph fastball coming at your head!

10. Celebrate your successes. The Cubs celebrated every victory in their locker room. When the event ends, does everyone pack up the boxes and head to the airport? If so, you’re missing an important part: the celebration of a job well done.

11. Cubs employees get the best of everything. The organization flew all of its employees to Game 7 of the World Series. You can call it their incentive trip! Everyone will receive a World Series ring. The Cubs spared no expense because they knew the rewards in the future will pay dividends in employee retention and loyalty. Find a way to convince your leadership to support your efforts in big ways.

12. In conclusion You need loyal, passionate customers. Therefore none of this matters without appreciative fans—or, for meeting planners, attendees. Fortunately your participants don’t have to wait a century for a great event!

Executive Director, Financial & Insurance Conference Planners

10 (Harsh) Truths Nobody Tells You About Being an Event Planner

10 (Harsh) Truths Nobody Tells You About Being an Event Planner . On the flipside however some of these common characteristics we share and our demanding career path can actually be a nightmare for those around us, at home, work and play.

In this post we explore the downsides of our work as an #Eventprof. This is essential reading for anyone training to be an Event Manager or starting out in the industry and should strike a cord with all Event Planners. This light hearted post is a special thank you to our friends and loved ones who put up with us day in and day out and love us anyway, despite these foibles and our unconventional jobs!

Perfectionist or Control Freak?

Attention to detail matters a lot in this job, for obvious reasons. However there is actually a very fine line between a perfectionist and a control freak. If you believe that you have to do everything yourself to ensure your high standards are met and struggle with delegation you may have crossed the line!

Do you believe that everything will crumble if you do not micro-manage every single detail? Try to keep a healthy perspective and reality check yourself otherwise with so many details to manage on every single event you can easily burn yourself out with stress and anxiety. Remember events are about team work for the greatest chance of success.

It is also sometimes inevitable and completely outside of your control when things go wrong. At times like these you need the right side of your brain to take the lead, rather than the methodical, task-based and logical left side. When you have to think on your feet and react quickly you really show your worth as an Event Manager. It takes nerves of steel not to crumble and to take control of the situation authoritatively and quickly and to smoothly direct a new plan of action. On the plus side there is no time to worry about it and the adrenalin often kicks in. You really must “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

All Work and No Play

Many people envy the role of an #eventprof. It is true that the job can have many perks, but it certainly isn’t always as glamorous as many people imagine!

In reality it is hard work. It involves long, long hours and plenty of pressure to ensure everything goes to plan. If you are looking for a set 9 to 5 job this probably isn’t the career for you to choose.

Moreover, when the event is in full swing on the day/night there is often no time to relax. At the end of the day you are putting on the event for other peoples benefit, delight and objectives, you are there to do a job and not to enjoy yourself!

Of course jet setting across the world or even just to other towns and cities sounds exciting. But often you have little or no time to explore the outside world before you are back on the plane/boat/train/car back home again.

Shhh. Don’t Tell!

Another misconception about our job is how lucky we are to work with celebrities and famous people and this is true most, or at least some, of the time. It is great to truly appreciate how someone has deservingly got where they are through talent and charisma and seemingly managed to stay grounded.

HOWEVER I think every #eventprof has horror stories of egotistical, downright rude and dislikeable characters we have had the “pleasure” to work with. But of course what happens backstage, stays backstage – or at least until I write my memoirs!

It’s Not All About You

One of the greatest skills of an Event Planner is actually fading into the background! You are not the star of the show, you are there to silently and efficiently work behind the scenes so that the event happens as if by magic.

Of course people should know where to turn if they have any questions or concerns but humility is actually a very important attribute for every Event Manager and this is a good marker to me of a successful event.

Sociable and Outgoing? Or Simply too Loud?

This profession seems to attract those that are fairly confident and outgoing, which makes sense in this public facing and customer orientated role. However it is important to realise that what is sociable to one person can sometimes be seen as overbearing to another. I have certainly met some marmite characters in the world of events.

The best #eventprofs are able to judge a situation and the characters involved perfectly and blend in as the circumstances demand. Like a chameleon they are well practised at keeping the conversation flowing on seemingly any topic, champions at asking questions, listening and showing an interest and of course able to inject professionalism, humour, intrigue and storytelling as required.

Tech Obsessed

For many Event Managers their role today is closely interlinked with technology. And social media and seems to demand being online 24/7. To others we can appear to act like teenagers, or even sometimes be perceived as being rude. Constantly checking our smart phones. However we are “working” – honest! In social media quick responses are essential so replying promptly across multiple social media channels is important. And it can be tempting to check ticket sales, reply to that email, update your to-do list and start planning that next blog post while your phone is at your fingertips.

Just please oh please do not fall in to the 75% of Americans that admit using their smart phone on the toilet….


Time and time again Event Management is listed as one of the top ten most stressful jobs. So can you blame us for being a little tetchy sometimes?! An event really is the ultimate immovable deadline. Stress levels and patience can sometimes run a little thin at pressurized times!
To be frank after a LONG, HARD event day of non-stop talking and endless smiles looking after guests it is nice to simply be quiet!

And yes, on event days we can easily cover 20 miles plus so we are fully entitled to moan about our aching limbs and blistered feet too!

What Time Do you Call This?

18 hour days and finally falling into bed at 3am after running a dinner or awards ceremony or rising at 4am to run a conference or exhibition is part of the job spec. Hopefully you have an understanding bedfellow as many people wouldn’t dream of keeping the hours demanded as an #eventprof.

Once An Event Planner Always An Event Planner…

When you go to an event organised by someone else we still cannot help ourselves. Do we switch off and enjoy not being in the driving seat for once? NO! Instead we seem to go on auto pilot, opening doors, directing people, solving other people’s problems. The strange thing is people seem to naturally gravitate towards us as if they think we are in charge! Event Management is in your blood.

Just Enjoy the Moment?

Furthermore we can’t help but wonder “why have they done it that way? I would have done that differently” whilst also appraising what they have done well and what is and isn’t working.

At festivals and concerts in particular I find myself completely fascinated. Watching the crew do their jobs and appreciating the quick set changes. And the sound, vision, lighting and special effects in minute detail. Does this detract from my enjoyment of the event though? No – not at all!

In Conclusion

I know lots of amazing Event Planners who are fantastic at what they do. However there is definitely a flip side and the traits that make us dynamite Event Managers. Our over-demanding careers can also make us frustrating friends, lovers, family members, work colleagues or acquaintances. I hope that we are worth it!

Can you identify with any of the truths in this post? What other honest confessions would you add to this list? I would love to have your input in the comments below.
Read more at http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/truths-event-planner#hYQBo4SXcBdTBGVG.99

Infuse Strategy into your Incentive Travel Program

Infuse Strategy into your Incentive Travel Program. While all travel incentives are designed to reward top performers, some are better than others. The difference isn’t about the size of budget … it’s how the budget is allocated – and the strategy behind it.

While all travel incentives are designed to reward top performers, some are better than others.
Infuse Strategy into your Incentive Travel Program

When it comes to planning a travel incentive program, event planners have the same basic list of basic requirements: a destination, a suitable property, transportation plan, welcome reception, activities, and food and beverage. However, the best planners understand that these pieces form the basic plotline of a much more thrilling story. Travel incentive programs are most effective when the storyline resonates to the extent that the attendees, whether employees or sales people, cherish the experience and use it to fuel their future performance.

Weaving a compelling story requires planners to be masters of the human experience; the science of behavioral economics helps us understand how our emotion can have a profound impact on our behavior. And the best event planners behavioral economics to inform strategic decisions for their travel programs.

As you plan your next incentive trip, amp up your strategy by using the principles of behavioral economics listed below.

Vividness refers the idea that people tend to remember things more easily when they are highly graphic or dramatic. Something that is particularly stunning or striking makes for an experience that becomes deeply rooted with positive lasting effects.

How to apply: When you think through the aspects of an event, consider all possible senses. Meals shouldn’t just taste good, they should look good. Décor shouldn’t be filler; it should boldly reinforce a message. Consider incorporating scent and other special touches to bring your entire experience to life.

Why it’s important: A vivid event is a memorable event and a memorable event is effective. Participants who remember the experience well will benefit from greater enthusiasm even as time passes. These detailed memories fuel enthusiasm for months and years beyond.

Idiosyncratic fit refers to the idea that everyone feels a sense of individuality and we appreciate when others recognize that we are unique. In fact, when we feel that we’ve been recognized as an individual, we are more likely to become personally invested and enjoy the experience.

How to apply: Offer choice whenever possible. Instead of putting an identical gift in every room, set up a gifting station where participants can “shop” for their gift based on style, size, color, etc. The same goes for activities; give participants several options so they can spend time doing exactly what they want.

Why it’s important:

It doesn’t matter how incredible your event is if your participants don’t feel a personal connection. Giving opportunities to choose encourages them to fully engage in the process. Choice honors the individual which is a hallmark of a quality incentive program.

On the other end of the spectrum, many participants experience what is calledthe tyranny of choice which refers to the idea that people tend to get overwhelmed when they are offered too many options. To combat this pitfall, wise planners leverage choice architecture which is the idea that choices can be carefully selected and presented in a way that makes it easier and more satisfying for participants to make a decision.

How to apply:

when planning for elective activities focus on putting together a thoughtful list of a few choices with simple and straightforward descriptions. Even if your destination or venue offers dozens of activity options, it’s better to pare it down to a few good options that fit your audience really well.

Why it’s important: elective activities should be inherently fun and easy – not stressful and time consuming! When faced with too many choices and too much detail, your participants will waste time agonizing over their options and increasing the risk that they will wish they had selected one of the other options instead.

Re-consumption refers to the concept that it is possible for someone to relive an experience over and over whenever they are reminded of it. Each time the experience is remembered the same emotions and positive effects come into play and reinforce the person’s original state of mind.

How to apply: participants can experience re-consumption when they have a good reminder of the experience. Consider gifts that are a direct reminder of the experience. The gifts could relate to the destination of a trip or the theme of the incentive program.

Why it’s important: The success of any program is built on whether the audience successfully received a message. It’s better yet if the message lives on long after the event is over. When participants are able to mentally revisit the experience, you are maximizing the investment.

The dopamine effect is the result of a chemical reaction that produces a rush in the brain after something good happens.

As human beings, once we experience this rewarding feeling we become motivated to experience it again.

How to apply:

Broadly speaking, the dopamine effect can come into play nearly any time you provide a positive and exciting experience for your participants. To capitalize on this principle, provide opportunities for sweeping views and thrilling excursions.

Why it’s important: It’s common knowledge that participants should enjoy their experience. But the dopamine effect can actually impact the psychology of participants. Once a participant experiences a rush in the brain. The positive memory is sealed with powerful motivation to achieve it again. The difference between a “nice” trip and a “wow” experience can have a huge impact on future performance.

When armed with an understanding of behavioral economics, planners can maximize the impact of a travel incentive program. If your goal is to increase effectiveness without increasing budget. You may want to consider re-allocating your dollars to areas that will resonate with your inherently emotional audience.

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