Incentive travel will recover, APAC to lead the charge: ITII

Incentives of the future are predicted to sport more luxury experiences alongside wellness programmes

While incentive travel professionals from Asia-Pacific suffered more than their global counterparts, the sector has shown resilience and is on track to recover rapidly over the next few years.

This is according to the preliminary results of the 2020 edition of Incentive Travel Industry Index (ITII), shared Pádraic Giligan, chief marketing officer at Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), during the virtual IT&CM Asia & CTW 2020 session entitled Our Roadmap for Recovery: What incentive travel professionals can learn from ITII.

Incentives of the future are predicted to sport more luxury experiences alongside wellness programmes

Other findings revealed that while although the Asia-Pacific region saw 10 per cent of incentive businesses closing down due to the pandemic, the entrepreneurial spirit in Asia was strong, with many looking at new revenue streams.

Asia is also expected to have a rapid recovery from 2021 to 2023, due to “the resilience and the ability of professionals to get back on their feet and start again”, opined Giligan.

What should be of concern to Asian suppliers, DMCs and DMOs intending to attract the longhaul European and North American markets, is that Asia is no longer in the top 10 destination choices for this year.

Analysing the results, Giligan shared: “Due to Covid-19, there was a greater focus on staying closer to home, as well as a focus on going to places that are perceived to be safe. There was also a move away from urban destinations, from crowds to places where there are lots of spaces.”

As such, he pointed out that Asian CVBs and suppliers have their work cut out for them in terms of providing reassurances and information on safety protocols in place at the destination.

Overall, Giligan said that the impact of Covid-19 on the global incentive travel industry was temporary.

And while the sector is currently “focused on cost-cutting”, on the flipside it is also focused on “developing new skills, new revenue streams and achieving a better work-life balance”.

“When we think of the pandemic, we usually think of the negative impacts, but there are a lot of underlying positive things happening, and that is a good thing.”

On how incentive travel will look like in the future, the survey revealed that luxury experiences took top spot, followed by cultural experiences, CSR programmes and wellness. This is because the focus will be on the intrinsic joy of travel. And while corporate objectives will be present, it will be presented in a different way.

He elaborated: “Companies now, in designing travel experiences for the future want their qualifiers to have incredible experiences and to travel with no strings attached. But (they also want them) to travel with a purpose, which is why CSR comes in third, while wellness programmes are to reward them for all the hard work.”

The complete 2020 ITII will be released in early December. There were 2,882 responses from 91 destinations from around the world.

ITII is a joint annual research effort from SITE, the Incentive Research Foundation and Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals in association with Oxford Economics.

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