The 2022 IRF Destination Preferences Study paints an optimistic picture for incentive travel as a potent tool for motivating sales teams. In the wake of the pandemic, the allure of incentive trips has never been stronger. The study, which focused on 405 full-time sales professionals in the U.S., conducted between March and April 2022, reveals compelling insights into the evolving landscape of incentive travel.
The findings indicate an overwhelming endorsement of group incentive travel, with a staggering 91% of participants considering it 'extremely' or 'very' motivating. This represents a notable increase from the already substantial 80% reported in the 2021 study. These figures underscore the universal appeal of group incentive travel, with only a marginal 1% expressing indifference.
Furthermore, individual incentive travel emerged as an even more potent motivator, garnering an impressive 96% approval rating, up from 84% in the previous year. The data leaves no room for doubt – both group and individual incentive travel hold a profound sway over sales professionals, with nearly unanimous endorsement.
A positive trend was also observed in perceptions of fairness regarding the award selection process. A significant 85% of respondents felt that the process at their respective companies was either 'extremely' or 'somewhat' fair. This newly included question in the 2022 survey indicates that companies are actively striving to maintain transparency and equity in their incentive programs.
The study delved deeper into what makes an incentive travel truly compelling. Among the attributes assessed, ample relaxation time emerged as the paramount consideration, deemed 'extremely' or 'somewhat' important by an overwhelming 89% of participants. This speaks to the growing recognition of the need for rest and rejuvenation, especially after the stresses induced by the pandemic.
Other crucial factors included the ability to bring a companion, luxury accommodations and experiences, and provision for spending money to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Notably, the opportunity for public recognition in front of peers saw a significant surge in importance from the previous year, indicative of a return to larger group events conducive to peer-wide acknowledgment.
Destination preferences also exhibited intriguing trends. Participants were asked to rank 12 types of experiences in order of preference, revealing that beach/sunshine destinations, adventure travel, and mountains remained the top choices, consistent with the previous year. However, there were noteworthy shifts. Wellness spa visits, which ranked low in 2021, climbed to the fourth position, while cruising, previously at the bottom, witnessed a substantial rise in popularity.
This shift suggests that safety concerns are gradually diminishing, allowing people to feel more at ease in crowded environments. Conversely, visiting smaller cities, primarily English-speaking areas, and wooded/nature areas ranked lower in preference, indicating a preference for more vibrant and bustling locales.
When it comes to the ideal length of an incentive travel, 50% of respondents deemed a trip lasting between 4-6 days as 'ideal', while only 8% preferred a shorter duration of 1-3 days. This preference aligns with the current trend in trip planning, where 23% of trips are scheduled for three days or less.
Finally, in terms of destination choices, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Western U.S., and Western Europe remained at the top, indicating a consistent appeal for these regions. Notably, Mexico made a significant comeback in preference, marking it as the 'biggest riser' among the destinations. However, some regions, particularly in Asia and Africa, ranked lower, reflecting a relative lack of interest.
In summary, the 2022 IRF Destination Preferences Study paints a vivid picture of a resurgent interest in incentive travel among sales professionals. The data showcases a universal appeal for both group and individual incentive travel, coupled with a growing emphasis on fairness in the award selection process. As companies continue to refine their incentive programs, the study provides valuable insights into the evolving preferences and priorities of sales teams.
Contact Incentivetravelgroup.com to start planning your 2024 Incentive trip