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IRF 2018 Incentive Program Study Points to Growth

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently announced the release of the IRF 2018 Outlook Study, an analysis of how incentive, rewards and recognition programs are being designed and budgeted for 2018. Both the incentive travel and rewards segments reported optimism for the economy and its impact on the industry.
The study involved nearly 230 industry representatives, including suppliers, corporate end-users and incentive house representatives who gave their feedback on U.S. incentive travel and reward programs in 2018. Highlights from the IRF 2018 Outlook Study include:
  • Incentive travel budgets are up, with an average per-person spend of $3,915, an increase of 4% over last year.   
  • For gift card and merchandise programs, those with budgets from $251 to $5,000 per person have risen to 57%. 
  • The top five incentive travel destinations for respondents were the continental United States, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe.
  • Almost one third of respondents indicated an increase in individual travel packages (31%) and experiential rewards (37%). 
  • Regulations continue to be difficult to navigate, with almost 75% of respondents saying it’s difficult to stay informed about federal, state and local regulations impacting programs.
  • The incentive travel industry’s Net Optimism Score for the economy is up from 26% in the fall of 2016 to 44% in the summer of 2017.
  • The merchandise/gift card reward program industry’s Net Optimism Score was up as well – to 22%.  
“This study provides a detailed look at important industry metrics, as well as trends that are emerging year over year,” says IRF President Melissa Van Dyke. “Industry stakeholders report that they expect the financial performance of their firms to be strong in the coming year, and optimism is up from last year.” 

To view or download a copy of the full study, click here.
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