C&IT surveyed 40 of the top incentive agencies about key trends, and more than half (54%) stated they are seeing an increase in long-haul incentives.
Popular mid- to long-haul destinations include old favourites New York, South Africa, Dubai and Mauritius, with Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hawaii and Costa Rica among those cited as having great potential for incentives in the future.
Current short-haul favourites include Morocco, Iceland, Portugal, Italy, France and Croatia.
However, agencies are predicting that the second and third cities of popular European countries are likely to gain interest, as travel prices become more competitive and flights increase in frequency.
"We've started to notice more enquiries and interest into Eastern Europe, where companies and budgets tend to get a lot more for their money," said Jamie Diment, head of projects and operations at Chillisauce. "We expect to see an even bigger increase in events being organised in places like Tallinn, Riga and Krakow."
Meanwhile, The Black Tomato Agency is pitching more up-and-coming long-haul destinations.
"We're keen to push emerging long-haul destinations such as Argentina, Brazil and Australia," said David Heron, head of sales at The Black Tomato Agency. "Brazil has seen more interest since the World Cup put it on the map last year, but we want to take it a step further and suggest places we've never suggested before, such as Costa Rica."
However, despite showing interest in emerging destinations, some agencies say clients will often revert back to the safer choices.
Jason Sullivan, employee engagement and recognition manager at Colt Technology Services, agreed.
"We don't necessarily look for 'new' destinations when we book. The view is to move away from the big name, more exotic destinations, and focus more on the programme itself. In the next five years I anticipate recognition events will seek to include more team-working and business-related activity, encouraging winners to build long-term relationships with their peers," he explained, pointing out that even the most well-trodden European destinations have plenty to offer.
"This might include workshop sessions for the winners to discuss business challenges, finding solutions to problems, or receiving presentations on the future strategy and direction of the company."
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