Incentive industry professionals believe they may be 'out of the woods' as far as the economy's negative impact on programme planning goes, but most still acknowledge that this doesn't necessarily mean incentive budget increases, according to a survey by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).
The foundation's Spring 2010 Pulse Survey noted a growing optimism when it asked incentive industry professionals about incentive travel programmes, merchandise and non-cash programmes, as well as ROI and budget considerations.
Most promisingly, respondents appeared to be more optimistic about the current economic climate than they were in either the summer or autumn of 2009.
When asked what impact the economy will have on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programmes, 69% of respondents said it will have a "positive" impact, compared to 33% in autumn 2009, and only 24% in summer 2009.
And, when asked about merchandise and non-cash incentive programmes, 41% felt that the economy will have a positive impact, compared to only 26% in autumn 2009 and 20% in summer 2009.
While clearly feeling better about the economy, one-third of those surveyed did predict that budgets for incentive travel would decrease in 2010, while 37% said they will remain unchanged.
Things were a little more hopeful on the merchandise and non-cash incentives side where only 22% expected a decline in 2010 and 40% predicted an increase, with 37% saying they would see no change in their budget.
But, the foundation warned, although the survey revealed an increase in optimism about the economy in general, this may not translate into more money for programmes just yet.