The corporate events industry found lots to love in a report released earlier this year by the Events Industry Council and Oxford Economics. Just consider these results:

1. A leading industry

In 2016, meetings and events generated $325 billion in overall revenue for the US economy, coming in ahead of automotive, oil and gas, and music and movies. In terms of impact on direct employment, it’s even more impressive — the industry ranked second only to healthcare.

2. Small sector, big impact

“Incentive meetings” make up only seven percent of overall meeting activity, yet the study estimated their economic impact at $22 billion, with an average per-person spend that was 12 percent higher than the average for all other types of meeting. Incentive meetings also showed the greatest growth increase of all meeting types, and a significant increase in the number of participants.  

3. Budgets that achieve goals

Another recent study conducted by the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) finds that incentive travel budgets are much higher. Buyers report an average per person spend of around $4,000 and 98 percent rate incentive travel as “effective” in achieving their business objectives.

4. Social changes

Incentive travel experiences clearly generate economic impact, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Over the past 10 years there’s been a radical change in terms of societal perceptions, qualifier expectations and company policies, with incentive travel now pivoting around the pursuit of authenticity and social responsibility.

5. Company culture

Contributing to the rapid growth of incentive travel is a war for talent in many industries, requiring companies to step up their employee engagement efforts. Incentive travel is increasingly being used by companies to drive corporate culture and facilitate communication between company executives and employees. It is a proven way to help companies hold on to top talent and decrease turnover.

6. Experiencing the world

The true potential of incentive travel extends to the heart of society, as it provides extraordinary experiences for individuals and families through the transformative power of travel. It facilitates human encounters, helps overcome barriers, builds understanding, cultivates connections and promotes peace.

7. Increasing the impact

Incentive travel works — that’s clear from all of the research. We must broaden our understanding of its value in order to harness the power of incentive travel to affect positive change. Here’s how we can do that:

  • Evolve the model for incentive travel around the pursuit of authentic experiences, the focus on discovery and giving back to the communities we visit

  • Continue to incorporate social responsibility and sustainability elements into incentive travel

  • Alter the way we talk about incentive travel by highlighting its transformative potential for businesses, individuals, communities and societies

  • Measure the impact of incentive travel experiences on employee engagement and retention