The report points to figures from Allied Market Research which put the current growth of the incentive sector at 12.1 per cent per year, putting it on track to be worth AU$216.8 billion (AU$335.76 billion) by 2031. However, the report’s author Mike Fletcher notes that this is significantly under industry projections from 2017, which suggested a worth of US$805 billion (AU$1.246 trillion) by 2031, which suggests the pandemic had a significant impact on incentive travel.
IBTM’s report pulls strongly from the 2022 Incentive Travel Index (ITI) which is built from input from over 1,400 incentive travel professionals, working across 19 different industries in 74 countries.
According to the ITI, incentive travel participation is expected to recover by 48 per cent in 2023 and grow by 61 per cent in 2024 from a 2019 base.
While growth is looking decent, challenges including inflation, rising travel costs and supply chain issues were identified by planners.
The strongest industries for incentive travel are financial services, software-as-a-service companies and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. However, this may be influenced by the fact that one of collaborators for the 2022 ITI was Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals, alongside the Incentive Research Foundation and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE).
In terms of destinations, US incentive planners are looking close to home, favouring destinations like Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, while the rest of the world – who made up just over 37 per cent of respondents – favour emerging European destinations, the Gulf states and the Caribbean.
The motivation for incentives appears to have shifted, from being predominantly about rewarding high-performers to retaining talent, fostering inclusivity and nurturing peer-to-peer relationships.
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs are also gaining importance, although notably less so in North America, in comparison to the rest of the world.
IBTM’s Incentive Travel Report also delves into key trends for the wider events industry and flags authenticity, sustainability and wellness to be particularly important for the incentive market.