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Better Times Ahead for the Incentive Industry?

If 2009 was a challenging year for the incentive industry, a recent Pulse Survey by the Incentive Research Foundation offers several indications of (slightly) rosier times ahead. While the industry is not quite ready to breathe a sigh of relief, these results indicate a brightening outlook as practitioners plan programs for 2010.

“Cautiously optimistic is the term I would use to describe the overall message in the data from the survey,” says Mark Peterman, Chairman of the IRF Research Committee. “Our sense is that companies may have been sitting on budgets for the past 10 months or so waiting to see how things were going to play out and whether there was going to be more pushback from the media and community regarding incentives.”

Here are some key findings from the Incentive Industry Trends 2010 study: • Respondents appear to be more optimistic and consider the economy as having a more positive impact on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs. • A combined 16% of respondents indicate that they expect budgets for incentive travel programs in 2010 to increase, while 30% say they expect budgets to remain unchanged. • 56% of respondents anticipate an increase with regards to involvement of procurement and purchasing for incentive travel programs in 2010. • 32% of respondents say that budgets for merchandise/non-cash incentive programs in 2010 will increase (either moderately or slightly), while 34% anticipate that budgets will remain unchanged. • Planners still point to the economic downturn as having a negative impact on their ability to plan and implement merchandise/non-cash incentive programs.

For more information about the IRF’s Incentive Industry Trends 2010 study, visit the IRF website at www.theirf.org .