Cultivate Blog

Posted by Jenny McGee on 1/31/23 8:00 AM

A new year is here — what a gift! The months ahead are full of promise, and industry analysts are already weighing in with what they believe are the top trends for gifting and incentive programs. Employing new ways to track a measurable return on investment, increasing an employee’s total compensation package without incurring fixed costs or creating long-term expectations, and prioritizing downtime are a few examples.

But it doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. As one incentive professional put it, “the rising cost of everything” might be at odds with the ability to deliver the desired experience and outcomes. Don’t fret — the Gifting Experts you know and trust are here to help. With 13+ years of experience, expert-level insights and connections, and a variety of proven solutions under our proverbial belt, we’re not bothered by these claims. 

Explore this blog to learn what’s driving the growing demand for gifting and appreciation, why the value of non-cash incentives will continue to increase, and how planners are upping their game to make events, meetings, and incentive travel more exciting, authentic, and memorable than ever.


Demand grows for gifting and appreciation.

As we enter 2023, gifting is an increasingly critical business strategy to help organizations attract, retain, and build culture across in-office and remote workers, as well as strengthen channel partnerships.

Gifting programs will be expected to have a broader reach and deeper impact. The new decentralized workforce brings new expectations, new drivers of performance, and new considerations for the delivery of appreciation to inspire performance and loyalty. 

The IRF’s Role of Incentives In Today’s Decentralized Workforce reported that culture is key. Now more than ever, our team of Gifting Experts plays an important role in helping companies offer memorable, personalized, and frequent recognition. 

Additionally, the growing role of gifting provides an opportunity for more measurement, analysis, and proof of success, including measurable return on investment. That's why we designed our all-in-one Platform around clients only paying for appreciation that works — meaning you only pay after someone selects a gift. This helps maximize your budget and ensures the cash your company is investing actually drives your business forward.

It’s not just clients who are leveraging analytics; incentive professionals like Cultivate are making data-driven decisions moving forward, for personalization, and to educate potential and existing clients on the value of effective incentive programs.

The value of non-cash incentives will continue to increase.

While inflation has been a challenge for businesses and employees alike, incentive professionals are responding with program adjustments that everyone benefits from.

The IRF’s Industry Outlook for 2023: Merchandise, Gift Cards, and Event Gifting reported that 50% of respondents believe high inflation increases the value of non-cash incentives. Additionally, emerging research shows that non-cash rewards provide a flexible means of increasing an employee’s total compensation package without incurring fixed costs or creating long-term expectations and “entitlement effects.”  

At Cultivate, we offer Collections that range from $75 - $1,000 to ensure companies of all sizes and budgets can afford to effectively recognize the people who deserve it most. Appreciating people with a non-cash incentive, like a gift of their choice, will be a particularly welcome gesture when household incomes are stretched, and discretionary spending is more limited. 


On-site planners are going to feel the pressure to please. 

Incentive travel activity will be strong in 2023, with the Incentive Travel Index reporting that 56% of buyers are increasing per-person spending. And as incentive travel rebounds to meet pent-up demand, expectations are higher than ever. 

With the added emphasis on employee retention and recruitment, the quality and impact of programs tie clearly to corporate goals. Incentive travel professionals are expected to “up their game” to be more exciting, more exclusive, more experiential, more authentic, and more memorable than ever. 

As incentive travel participants come back together, and many are now used to working from home, downtime has emerged as another priority. 89% of survey participants reported being given ample time to relax was ranked as an important quality of an incentive trip. Attendees want more choices in their schedules, the time between programs, and blocks of time to connect with others. In fact, 72% of respondents indicated that relationship-building activities, like On-site Gifting, were key to a successful trip.

This year presents a real opportunity for incentive programs to embrace some sense of “normal.” While it would be easy to revert back to pre-pandemic approaches and communication, it is important to keep in mind that preferences and priorities have shifted over the past two years.

Take time to connect with our team of Gifting Experts. We’ll help you make changes to ensure the long-term health of your gifting and incentive programs — one gift at a time.

Topics: New

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