IRF 2024 Industry Outlook Blog

Feb 14, 2024 | Event Management

Coworkers sit at a big table staring at a computer screen. They are viewing the latest IRF report.

Top Takeaways from the IRF 2024 Trends Report

Everyone is busy and if you are like me, you only have time to scan the headlines each day to keep up. But there are a few important sources of information I never miss, like the annual IRF Trend Report. That’s why our Xperts have pulled key insights from the report — saving you time while still giving you the data you need.

IRF Trend: Increasing Importance of Incentives to Motivate Today’s Workforce

One10 take: We agree, and we’re excited to see 53% of senior leaders consider incentive travel a “need to have” and 48% call it an “essential strategic differentiator.”

Good incentive programs pay dividends. That’s been proven over and over. Here are just a few stats from a recent Forbes article:

  • Employees who don’t feel valued are 34% more likely to leave their job within the next year. (TinyPulse)
  • At 37%, recognition ranked higher than more autonomy (12%), more inspiration (12%) or a raise (7%) when it comes to how employers can help employees be successful. (Haiilo)

Bottom line: incentives matter now, more than ever. That’s why we take a methodical approach to crafting incentive programs that fit company culture and link behavior to goals.

IRF Trend: Inflation Continues, and Budgets are Hit Hard

One10 take: Inflation is out pacing budget increases, which in turn, are causing program owners to make changes or cut content

When done right, incentive programs more than pay off. Measuring KPIs and the feedback on your investment is key to demonstrating value in the C Suite. Depending on your goals, you can structure incentive programs differently, and understand which incentives drive which behavior.

IRF Trend: Workforce is getting younger, and priorities are shifting

One10 take: We are passionate about this point, which is why our Chief Revenue Officer, Richelle Suver, is speaking about this very topic at SITE Global. It’s not only that overall the workforce is getting younger; it’s also that the workforce is multi-generational. This means that that truly understanding your employees is key to success. What a Traditionalist finds motivating can be quite different than a Gen X, not to mention Millennials.

One ramification of the increasing shift of workforce demographics to younger workers is that they’re also the group who tends to switch jobs more often. That’s where incentive programs come into play as motivation and appreciation can create job stickiness and help in talent retention. The good news is that it’s also easier than ever to implement and manage your incentive program through technology like our proprietary platform, PerformX.

IRF Trend: Tension Between Planners and Suppliers

One10 take: We’ve definitely seen challenges with increased costs and staffing turnover/shortages. We know the hospitality industry was hit hard in 2020, and some of the impact is our new normal.

We’re not perfect, but our goal at One10 is to focus on relationships, not transactions. We approach everyone as a partner. That means sharing goals and expectations as soon as possible and asking for input and ideas. Another key to being a good partner is communication that meets people where they are — do they prefer to hop on a phone call, have a meeting, or handle everything in Slack?

Our industry puts an emphasis on speed, but sometimes taking a few minutes to build connections with people at the start of a project is the best investment you can make.

IRF Trend: Increased Desire for New Incentive Travel Destination and Unique Experiences

One10 take: We definitely see this trend in our clients – curated experiences. Some interesting destinations we operated in are the Maldives, Slovenia, and New Zealand. When our clients don’t request a specific place, they still come with a list of requirements, like quality hotels/resorts and infrastructure, activity options (including “bucket list” experiences as well as quality “down” time), and experiences within the community and interaction with locals. All of that adds up to new and unique, like never before.

IRF Trend: Shifts in Use of Merchandise Rewards

One10 take: Giving your team the power of choice is, well, powerful! Points programs can accomplish this. Cash is not king when it comes to incentives, which seems counter-intuitive until you consider what happens to cash in your pocket. It tends to evaporate — you can’t quite pinpoint what you spent it on.

Points on the other hand, connect your employees straight to a reward – and one that they choose.

And that brings us to an insight we share often: don’t give a ‘one size fits all’ gift. Even when an item is incredibly hot, different people will experience and perceive the value of the same reward differently. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to personalization when crafting a rewards strategy. For one of our clients, we created an Ugg “slipper bar” where guests could choose their own custom Ugg slippers. They were over the moon! The gifts were the same, yet personal at the same time!

Choice is key.

IRF Trend: Artificial Intelligence is Increasing Efficiency and Impact

One10 take: We agree! Both with the enthusiasm for AI as well as the caveats. You still need to understand your business goals and your employee culture. AI can help with certain tasks, but it takes human knowledge and human execution to make sure your incentive program is tailored and trackable. That’s why we built PerformX, a SaaS-based solution designed to offer more options for configuration than other off-the-shelf platforms (at a lower price point).

Why did One10, a company with its roots in the travel and incentives space, decide to build our own software? Because we didn’t see anything out there that met our clients’ needs. Plus, we knew that our ongoing client relationships could do double-duty as research. That means the tool is always relevant and aligned to transform your employee and channel partners’ performance through actionable insights.

For more key takeaways and top incentive trends, you can request the full report here

Heidi Dillon

Heidi Dillon

Heidi Dillon is a Certified Incentive Travel Professional and current Manager of Event Operations with extensive knowledge of program planning, organization and onsite operations. She has become well respected through her years on the One10 operations team, creating successful automotive incentives and meetings as well as various programs with financial clients. Due to Heidi’s work ethic and leadership, she was recognized as Connect Corporate 40 under 40 in 2016 and she is currently serving as the Young Leaders delegate on the SITE International Board of Directors. Heidi began her career at One10 as a Travel Intern in November 2011 while a student at the University of Dayton, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and discovered her passion for travel while living in Spain and Italy.
Related Articles