"IRF 2018 Outlook Study" Reports Industry Optimism for Economy and Its Impact

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The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) is pleased to announce the release of the "IRF 2018 Outlook Study," an analysis of how incentive, rewards, and recognition programs are being designed and budgeted for 2018. Both the incentive travel and rewards segments reported optimism for the economy and its impact on the industry.

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Both the incentive travel and rewards segments reported optimism for the economy and its impact on the industry.

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) is pleased to announce the release of the "IRF 2018 Outlook Study," an analysis of how incentive, rewards, and recognition programs are being designed and budgeted for 2018. Both the incentive travel and rewards segments reported optimism for the economy and its impact on the industry.

Executed in the summer of 2017, nearly 230 industry representatives including suppliers, corporate end users, and incentive house representatives gave their feedback on the outlook for U.S. incentive travel and reward programs in 2018.

“Industry stakeholders reported that they expect the financial performance of their firms to be strong in the coming year,” said IRF President Melissa Van Dyke. “Optimism is up from last year. The 'IRF 2018 Outlook Study' provides a detailed look at important industry metrics, such as the Net Optimism Score, as well as trends that are emerging year over year.”

To assist with reporting the state of the industry, the IRF launched the Net Optimism Score in 2017. Now in its second year, this simplified metric tracks the economic outlook for the incentives industry. Similar to the well-known Net Promoter Score, the Net Optimism Score is the percentage of respondents providing a positive rating to an industry question, adjusted by subtracting the percent giving a negative rating. A higher Net Optimism Score indicates greater optimism in the industry.

Insights from the "IRF 2018 Outlook Study" include:

  •     The incentive travel industry’s Net Optimism Score for the economy is up from 26% in the fall of 2016 to 44% in the summer of 2017.
  •     The merchandise/gift card reward program industry’s Net Optimism Score was up as well—to 22%.
  •     Incentive travel budgets are up with an average per-person spend of $3,915, an increase of 4% over last year.
  •     For gift card and merchandise programs, those with budgets from $251 to $5,000 per person have risen to 57%.
  •     The top five incentive travel destinations for respondents were the continental United States, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe.
  •     Almost a third of respondents indicated an increase in individual travel packages (31%) and experiential rewards (37%).
  •     Regulations continue to be difficult to navigate with almost 75% of respondents saying it is difficult to stay informed about the federal, state, and local regulations impacting programs.

To view or download a copy of the full study, visit: http://theirf.org/research/irf-2018-outlook-study/2258/
To view the white paper, visit: http://theirf.org/research/the-2018-irf-outlook-study-white-paper/2275/

About the IRF:
The Incentive Research Foundation (TheIRF.org) funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance.

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Andy Schwarz
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