Majority of incentive trips postponed not cancelled, IRF survey reveals

i By April 27, 2020 No Comments

A recent industry “pulse survey” conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) on the impact of COVID-19 on incentive travel award programs revealed that the majority of incentive trips planned for Q1 or Q2 2020 have been postponed, not cancelled.

“The results of this survey are encouraging and demonstrate that organizations increasingly recognize the value of incentive travel as an investment in driving business results,” said Stephanie Harris, president, IRF. “During this time of tremendous uncertainty and extraordinary work circumstances, individuals need to feel valued and recognized for their contributions more than ever whether through incentive travel or via other recognition programs.”

The survey—COVID-19’s Impact on the Incentive Travel Industry—was conducted during the first two weeks of April, with more than 250 incentive providers participating. Key findings include:

  • 61.5% of incentive trips originally planned for Q1 or Q2 of 2020 have been postponed into Q3 or Q4 of 2020, with a small percentage moved into 2021.
  • 70.25%  of those indicating they had postponed their incentive travel reward noted that there had been no change to their budget.
  • 30% working with reduced budgets are scaling back offsite events and activities, reducing the number of program nights and scaling back entertainment.
  • 75% of those respondents who cancelled their programs indicated they were recognizing winners in another way. The most common award substitutions in order were merchandise, cash, individual travel, and gift cards.
  • 64% of respondents indicated that they were not making changes to their current fiscal year earning period qualification criteria and timing.
  • and the 30% of respondents who indicated they were making changes to rules structures said it was too early to know exactly what the changes would be.

A downloadable copy of the report is available at


The Incentive Research Foundation is a private not-for-profit foundation. It funds research studies and develops products serving all segments of the global incentive industry. The Foundation focuses its initiatives on pragmatic research highlighting the premise and the power of incentive and motivational programs.