Incentive Travel Q&A: Melissa Van Dyke, IRF

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Prevue asked Melissa Van Dyke, president of the Incentive Research Foundation her thoughts on incentive travel.

Q: What destinations are trending upward for incentive travel programs in 2013?

Melissa Van Dyke: In the fall of 2012 the Incentive Research Foundation once again queried almost 250 program owners on their plans for incentive travel in 2013. Similar to the prior year, we found that North America, the Caribbean and Europe came out on top for incentive travel destinations. Over half of the respondents indicated that they would be using North American destinations in 2013. Forty-three percent said they would be using Caribbean destinations and 41% said they would be using European destinations in 2013.

Q: How are planners delivering solid ROI to clients?

A: One of the main things that we heard from our most recent Pulse Study is that almost half of incentive travel planners will be sticking to the same tight budget they had in 2012. Many planners are therefore being judicious in their spend by not increasing the number of room nights, number of participants or onsite inclusions for their programs in 2013. However, 31% of planners did indicate that they would be slightly increasing their budgets. This is good news since those respondents who indicated they increased program budgets in 2012 also indicated they saw significant returns through increases in employee morale, sales results and profitability.

Q: How is the definition of “wow” experiences evolving?

A: What we see most often in our research is that program planners are now heading toward experiences that create a sense of community. Although digital solutions are often scorned for generally making attendees more distracted, many planners have wisely used social media, gamification and virtual affinity groups to create a sense of community, even prior to attendees arriving on site. Once on site, we still see at least half of planners including a CSR activity that promotes giving back to organizations in the region.

Q: What is planned for the next IRF Invitational event?

A: The IRF’s 20th Annual Incentive Invitational will be held in Cancun, May 7-11, 2013. Headquarter host is the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Cancun. Destination co-hosts include Secrets The Vine, Le Blanc Spa Resort, Amstar DMC, CEO Mexico, Cancun CVB, Mexico Tourism Board and many more. Utilizing all of the elements that make incentive travel an effective motivation tool, the Annual Incentive Invitational brings together end-users plus partner suppliers at an incentive destination for four days of business networking, educational sessions addressing current economics and industry trends, and destination lifestyle experiences. For more info about this important event, contact The Opus Group at 720.708.6464.

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