The recovery of the incentive travel sector is going from strength to strength, with its global market value projected to reach £174 billion by 2031.
According to the IBTM World’s 2023 Incentive Travel Report, the sector is growing at an annual rate of 12.1 percent, and the number of people participating in incentive travel programs worldwide is predicted to grow by 61 percent in 2024, compared to 2019.
These figures reflect the power of incentive travel schemes as a valuable resource to attract, retain and motivate talent and as an essential driver of culture and reputation, particularly as the modern workforce becomes ever more disparate with working-from-home and hybrid working. Benefits such as inclusivity, peer-to-peer relationships, and being able to take a partner on a trip have become more relevant to employees, according to 66 per cent of incentive travel agencies.
Despite its revival, the sector still faces significant challenges including talent shortages, inflation, rising travel and supply chain costs. Plus, tighter corporate budgets which have resulted in a reduction in the frequency of business trips and fewer employees attending face-to-face events. The report highlights the need for companies to adapt their incentive travel schemes to ensure they remain competitive.
The importance of authenticity, wellness and sustainability are highlighted, driving a new breed of incentive travel programs which reflect the changing expectations of the workforce. Employees now place more emphasis on incentives which provide valued experiences, support corporate social responsibility (CSR), and demonstrate concern for employees, with 35 percent of respondents placing greater value on wellness activities and 44 percent underlining the importance of CSR-focused team building. These incentives could include opportunities which enable employees to connect with local culture, and excursions which counteract loneliness, stress and burnout.
As companies continue to navigate the changing business travel landscape, the report shares advice for ensuring incentive travel schemes thrive into the future. This includes remembering the power of connection to enhance an experience and never losing sight of who the program is aimed at to guarantee that what is on offer is relevant and engaging.