The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) has released its comprehensive report, 2016 Trends in Rewards and Recognition, revealing that businesses will emphasize unique, upscale and individualized experiences in their motivation programs this year. “This study reinforces that we live in a time of extraordinary change,” says IRF President Melissa Van Dyke, “and businesses need to keep up with the pace and continue to deliver on the brand promise if they’re going to remain competitive, retain their best people and keep them happy, healthy and productive.” Van Dyke notes that the IRF’s findings reveal 10 key motivation trends. Some highlights:
- Budgets are up…and so is oversight. The IRF’s latest Pulse Study found that 67% of planners will increase their incentive travel budgets between 1% and 10% this year. Merchandise and gift card programs are also flourishing – 40% of respondents say the economy is having a positive impact.
- Cash is not necessarily king. When given the choice between a reward that aligns with their personal experiential preferences, employees often don’t choose cash awards. The IRF’s Participant Study found that the most preferred award experience for large awards is travel, combined with the opportunity for special networking.
- A shift in Incentive Travel destinations will affect planning. For the first time, the Caribbean tied with the U.S. as the leading incentive travel destination. That means lead-times to book the most desirable destinations is becoming a critical factor.
- Merchandise and Gift Card programs lean toward luxury. Merchandise and gift card reward trends from IRF’s most recent Pulse Study reveal increasing confidence in the economy and a return to luxury items. Top merchandise options include: Electronics (31%); Open-Loop Gift Cards (28%); Luggage (24%); and Watches (23%).
- Recipients want authentic, unique experiences. Millennials seek “authenticity, singularity, and social value,” and incentive travel planners are responding with one-of-a-kind events, incorporating elements like locally authentic cuisine as a reflection of culture, entertainment that reflects the sights and sounds of the destination.
For more details on the results and to read the full report, click here.