What is the Average Cost of an Incentive Travel Program?

Posted on April 4th, 2017 by Mike May

Per couple?  Total trip?  How much for Hawaii or Caribbean or Europe?  I get those questions a lot.  Here’s a good benchmark:

$3,755 Per Person

The 2017 IRF Outlook Study surveyed the incentive travel market and reported the average cost per person is $3,755.  Offering a deeper analysis, the Incentive Research Foundation reported that the largest concentration of incentive travel budgets is between $3,000 and $4,000 per person, accounting for 36% of their survey.  The next two largest responses were for higher budget ranges:  $4,000-5,000 at 19% and greater than $5,000 at 20%.

IRF Incentive Travel Budget Study

Typical Incentive Trip Budget

Here’s my personal commentary – and my recommendation.  The $3,755 budget figure is likely pulled lower by shorter duration trips within the Continental 48.  For example, a call center incentive trip for three nights to Las Vegas.

My rule-of-thumb is a bit higher at $4,000 per person – for a corporate incentive travel program lasting 6 days and 5 nights, within North America (Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, or US), at an “incentive quality” 4-star resort, with 2 sponsored activities, all meals, welcome reception, and award dinner.  Then, we can play “plus/minus” if the group travels farther to Europe, upgrades to a 5-star resort, enhances attendees’ gifts, or adds other ‘wow’ elements.Incentive travel budgets need more room

Get Mo’ Money!

The next takeaway from the IRF study is a TIP: “get more budget!”  Each of the last two years the per-person spending has increased +5%.  Stomp into your CFO’s office, pound your fist on his desk, and yell “our club trip needs 20% more budget!” (You can settle in the middle at +10%.)

Even more worrisome, the IRF reported 56% of incentive planners agree that travel costs are increasing faster than budgets – placing them in a difficult position when it’s harder and harder to find bargains in a strong market for hoteliers.

Incentive Travel Budget Estimator

Our website has one of the coolest, interactive estimating tools.  This small pricing calculator lets you pick a destination, the number of nights, hotel star rating, included meals, the number of activities, and value of room gifts.  Voila!  A little website magic occurs, and you get an estimated budget per person.  Load your winner count, and the handy tool outputs your investment grand total. Theorycraft your next incentive trip to your heart’s content!

Personal Reply

I believe in helping others, so I’m happy to share personal feedback on your situation – with no strings attached and no-sales-arm-twisting.  Submit a reply comment below (which will stay private), and I will reply back privately.

Happy travels!

Mike May

President | Expertise is channel marketing, discovery and solution design for new clients, and matching perfect destination/venue to your audience.

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