. IRF Study: Majority of 2020 Incentive Travel Programs Are Postponed, Not Cancelled | Northstar Meetings Group

IRF Study: Majority of 2020 Incentive Travel Programs Are Postponed, Not Cancelled

Most of the rewards trips that have been delayed will take place in second half of 2020.

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A new study by the Incentive Research Foundation reveals that 61 percent of incentive trips originally planned for the first or second quarter of 2020 have been postponed until the third or fourth quarter of this year, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The survey of 250 incentive professionals was conducted in early April.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Most budgets for postponed trips remain the same. Seventy percent of the incentive professionals whose programs were postponed reported that their trip budgets remained intact.
  • Trip elements are being scaled back when budgets are reduced. The 30 percent of respondents whose budgets for postponed programs were reduced are making up the loss by trimming entertainment, limiting off-site events and activities, and reducing the number of program nights.
  • Alternative rewards are replacing cancelled trips. Among respondents whose travel programs were eliminated, 75 percent indicated they were recognizing winners in another way. Merchandise was most the popular replacement, followed by cash, individual travel and gift cards.
  • Program rules and qualification are holding steady. According to 64 percent of the respondents, they were not making changes to their qualification requirements for the current fiscal year's earning-period programs.

“The results of this survey are encouraging and demonstrate that organizations increasingly recognize the value of incentive travel as an investment in driving business results,” said Stephanie Harris, IRF president. “During this time of tremendous uncertainty and extraordinary work circumstances, individuals need to feel valued and recognized for their contributions more than ever, whether through incentive travel or via other recognition programs.”