Year in Review: 4 Discoveries from the 2013 Incentive Federation Study


Anyone familiar with the Incentives Industry will recognize and understand the prestige of the Incentive Federation Inc. (IFI) – a collection of organizations who consistently take the pulse of the industry. The IFI publishes an annual report at the end of each year to summarize their findings, based on surveys with those who do business in the industry, to keep all interested parties in the loop. There’s no better way to close out 2013 than with a summary of where our industry is at after another prosperous year.

Those who seek improvements in the performance of their business through motivated people, increased in employee engagement, improved customer loyalty, and strengthened channel sales revenues, should take notice of this study’s results. This 2013 research, which surveyed 2,000 business executives, is rather fascinating.

1.       The Incentives Industry is massive – Over $263 billion by some estimates

A 2011 report entitled “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy” estimated the direct spending of the meetings industry alone to be $263 billion. Further, the new IFI study measured non-cash incentive programs including merchandise or gift cards to be valued at $54.3 billion per year, incentive travel spending at $22.6 billion. Together, these segments compile a $76.9 billion sum for the Incentives Industry.

2.       Companies that do not allocate budget to non-cash awards might be behind the competition

56% of companies use non-cash incentives for non-sales employees, leaving the 44% who do not in the minority of the population. Other statistics of note include: 46% use non-cash incentives for sales incentive programs, 32% for customer loyalty and retention programs, and 26% for channel sales programs. These numbers really underscore how important non-cash incentives are when you consider that these strong figures are occurring in conjunction with economic challenges.

3.       Small firms (annual revenue between $1 million and $10 million) account for half of the non-cash industry spending

If your company is categorized as a “small” firm (86% of US companies are in this category), then it’s important to understand that industry giants and Fortune 500 entities are not the only businesses benefiting from non-cash incentive programs. In fact, smaller companies see some of the best return-on-investment on incentive programs, including travel, reward cards, merchandise, and points-based campaigns. Devoting more resources to employee motivation, incentives, rewards, and awards can help your organization reach new levels of productivity and profitability.

4.       Experiential/Adventure Travel will revolutionize the future of the Incentive Travel Industry

Though you may have never heard of experiential travel or adventure travel, it is being used for 30% of customer loyalty travel incentives, 25% of channel and employee travel incentives, and 20% of sales travel incentives. Renowned industry blogger Kevin J. Wright says Adventure Travel has been growing over 65% per year since 2009 and isn’t’ expected to slow anytime soon.

Please visit our website at for more information on how non-cash awards such as incentive travel, gift cards, incentive cards, merchandise, awards, and effective marketing communications campaigns can increase the performance of your business.

Questions? Comments? Please send me an email at or comment below to open a discussion.

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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