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 May 20, 2014
Site and the IMEX Group Joint Study On Purchasing Practices For Motivational Travel Programs

 Does prior experience with a supplier influence program decisions? This and related questions were the focus of a seoncd joint research study conducted by the Site International Foundation and IMEX, the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events. The research revisits and compares results from a similar study conducted in 2013. Utilizing the combined databases of The Site Index Panel and the IMEX Group, the study asked industry professionals to comment on their experiences in purchasing motivational travel. Of the study participants from more than 16 countries, 40% are Users of incentive travel and 60% represent Providers.

According to 2014 Site International Foundation President Kurt Paben, Senior Vice President, Aimia, "We are thrilled by the increased User response in the 2014 study. The results are consistent with the overall message that relationships continue to lead us in this business. For example, 83% of Users said that past relationships with suppliers influence program decisions. It is also worth noting that, despite economic uncertainty, Group Travel leads the list of motivational tools in Users' programs. Site Members, buyers and suppliers alike will appreciate the results from this comprehensive study. All segments must be willing to recognize and adapt to this knowledge in order to foster better relationships with one another now and in the future."

Key observations:

- Group Travel is growing in importance. Group Travel leads the list of motivational tools in User's programs (62%) with Recognition (44%) and Training (40%), surpassing Individual Travel (31%) and Family Travel (22%).
- Past relationships with a supplier matters. 83% of Users said that prior experience with a supplier and/or brand relationship significantly influences or influences their decision, up significantly from 2013. Providers (60%) also confirm that loyalty continues to have a strong influence on their selection of suppliers.
- Higher management and purchasing departments influence buying decisions. The majority of User respondents (59%) said that a single decision maker did not make incentive travel decisions. However, primary decision makers were in top management and 60% identified them as authorized to make unilateral decisions about motivational travel. A slightly smaller percentage (52% vs. 55% in 2013) said that procurement departments continue to have a strong influence on buying decisions.
- Providers believe that price is the major factor in not winning a bid. The majority of Providers (65%) said that price is the main reason for losing a bid as compared to 53% in 2013. However, A smaller percentage of suppliers (48% vs. 57%) feel that lead time affected the quality of their submissions.
- Trade Shows are a valuable source for identifying service providers. Both Users (79%) and Providers (81%) said that they attend trade shoes for the opportunity to find new suppliers or meet with existing ones.

"The industry's continued commitment to helping stakeholders understand the true underlying ROI and value of incentive travel programs has never been more important," commented Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group. "As such, IMEX is delighted to be able to partner with the Site International Foundation on research which helps us to better understand the decision-making process and how to improve for the future."

The survey was supervised by Scott A. Jeffrey, Ph.D. Monmouth University, and Marion Joppe, Ph.D., University of Gelph.