The meetings and events industry isn’t all business. Rewards are part of the trade, too. In celebration of Global Meetings Industry Day on April 6, Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) compiled 10 incentive travel facts to help planners orchestrate their next incentive excursion. Considering employees prefer travel and experiences to cash when selecting a large-scale award, an opportunity is bound to present itself.

1. According to Incentive Federation, a noncash reward program of some kind is employed by 84 percent of all U.S. businesses bringing in more than $1 million in annual revenue. Incentive travel is used to motivate employees and partners at 38 percent of U.S. firms exceeding $1 million in revenue.

2. Each year, U.S. businesses spend more than $14 billion on incentive travel, Incentive Federation reports.

3. IRF created a new, simplified metric to track economic outlook for the incentives industry. Net Optimism Score calculates the percentage of respondents providing a positive rating to an industry question minus the percent giving a negative rating. As of fall 2016, the industry’s Net Optimism Score measured 26 percent, indicating an outlook that is moderately positive, but shows more negativity than the past several years.

4. Based on fall 2016 data, incentive travel budgets typically range from $3,000 to $4,000 per person. Approximately 40 percent of businesses spend more, however. For example, per-person incentive travel budgets exceed $5,000 at 20 percent of firms.

5. Since fall 2014, the average per-person spend has risen 5 percent annually.

6. Recent trends indicate that incentive groups are returning to faraway destinations. Currently, the most common destinations for incentive group travel are the United States, Caribbean, Mexico and Europe.

7. Analysis revealed the Net Optimism Score for incentive travel to be closely tied to the United States’ overall economic performance. Given the economic impact of the travel industry as a whole, and fluctuating forecasts related to recent travel policies, the Net Optimism Score can act as a valuable indicator.

8. Event disruption is the norm, not the exception. Nearly 60 percent of planners have dealt with disruption at their events. In fact, planners estimate that nearly one in four events have been impacted in some manner.

9. The key to a value-added partnership varies depending on which side you ask. Planners value flawless execution from hotel partners above all else. From a hotelier’s perspective, the most impactful thing a planner can do is provide a strong vision.

10. Planners and organizations show enthusiasm for wellness, but implementation of wellness practices lags behind interest. Wellness elements most frequently included in meetings today are healthy snacks, reduced-calorie drinks, smoke-free properties, free access to fitness facilities and frequent breaks.

Read more in the IRF 2017 Outlook Study.