Incentive travel budgets are going up, and most companies are opening the programs to a wider group of qualifiers. These insights come from the Incentive Travel Industry Index, produced by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) in collaboration with the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP), and provides a look into the current state of incentive travel and where it is headed.

The index found that more than half (54 percent) of incentive travel buyers—which, in the survey, represent incentive agencies and corporate users—report an increase in budgets year over year. The median per person spend is stable at $4,000, although corporate users report a higher median spend ($4,550) versus incentive agencies ($3,500). The study also found that 65 percent of buyers are increasing the number of incentive program qualifiers. It attributes this to company growth and optimism in the economy.

In its study, the IRF reports that almost 70 percent of buyers say their programs are effective at achieving business objectives, although only a quarter of respondents always measure ROI/ROO compared to more than 50 percent who say such measurements are not required. Sales and profitability remain the top reasons to run an incentive program, but more importance is being given to building relationships between management and employees, increasing productivity and employee engagement.

The full IRF Incentive Travel Index study and further highlights are available here.