5 Incentive Travel and Gift Trends for 2022

According to the IRF, programs will be shaped by workforce changes, supply-chain issues and more.

Continued uncertainty, more employees working remotely, and “The Great Resignation.” Given the importance of recruitment, retention, and engagement, incentive programs will be more important than ever.

“Pandemic-related challenges continue to impact the incentives industry into 2022. Dramatic hiring shifts are driving companies to examine how to be even more competitive in the job market, and a robust incentive program is an important part of a company’s full benefits package,” said IRF President Stephanie Harris.

The IRF 2022 Trends Report addresses how adaptation, flexibility, and communication will continue to be key as companies weigh their options about bringing employees together, whether it’s opening the office or travelling on an incentive trip.

Following are five key trends for incentive, reward, and recognition programs in 2022:

Incentive programs will boost connections.

As companies strive to retain and hire talent, incentive programs are expanding their reach to motivate the maximum number of employees and partners. Programs need to make participants feel connected to the company, with the focus on post-pandemic, culture-building company goals.

Incentive travel will remain a priority for companies.

Incentive program owners and participants are willing to navigate uncertainty, travel restrictions, testing, and shifting protocols for an incentive trip. The IRF’s June 2021 study reported group incentive travel awards are considered ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ motivating by 80% of survey respondents.

Incentive programs will be used to inspire remote workers.

With a remote workforce, fostering a feeling of connectedness is an important part of any incentive program. Well-designed programs will link employee decisions, behaviors, and actions to the firm’s pandemic recovery strategy and priorities.

More focus will be placed on reward personalization.

Participants experience greater personalization in day-to-day shopping experiences, and they expect the same from their incentive programs. Individual preferences and comfort levels will need to be addressed for the remote workforce, employees returning to the office, and incentive trip winners who may have not travelled for many months.

Disruptions will continue to affect programs.

Incentive programs have been impacted by factors such as compression of hotel inventory, availability of merchandise, price increases, and a reduced workforce. Incentive program owners are focused on setting expectations for program participants and company leadership.