Demand for ‘Experiences’ Outpaces Tourism in Asia Pacific’s CIT Industry

November 12, 2018

Tourism continues to dominate Asia Pacific’s travel industry, but the Corporate Incentive Travel segment (CIT), already representing one-quarter of the global travel industry, continues to make steady gains.

The Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) partnered with PCMA Education Foundation to commission a research project to help APAC region meeting planners understand what is driving this expanding CIT market, which favors travel over financial incentives to motivate and reward high-performing staff, particularly Gen Y and Millennials.

APAC’s business events sector is already valued at more than US$200 billion so researchers identified ways meeting planners could maximize CIT and develop new revenue models.

Traveling to another county is no longer the dominating factor in designing CIT, according to the study. Nearly one-third of CIT planners said curating unexpected ‘WOW’ experiences, including hands-on events tailored to professional and personal growth, have become the industry standard. 

This finding, along with six other emerging trends, were shared by Karen Bolinger, Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO, and Sherrif Karamat, PCMA president and CEO, on 9 November at PCMA’s 2018 Annual Conference in Bangkok.

Other CIT trends include a shift from first-tier destinations to a growing appetite for unusual, less-known incentive travel locations; an increasing need for additional research and support in creating unique delegate itineraries; the opportunity for further collaboration between planners, destination bureaus and associated services to meet the needs of the market; the increasing demand of justifying budgets and providing more for less or the same budgets; and the impact of social media on the expectations of travelers and corporate clients.

Research participants included high-performing sales staff and executives, incentive travel planners, meeting planners, event strategists and other sector experts from a wide range of countries, including Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The study was conducted by Australian-based Essence Communications.

Bolinger said: “The Corporate Incentive Travel segment is proving to be a “quiet phenomenon” as it makes up over 25% of the global business travel industry and, in Australia alone, is growing at 20% year on year. It was obvious that this rapidly growing market would generate incredible insight and new business opportunities for incentive and meeting planners in Asia Pacific. We are thankful for PCMA’s support on this research and for the opportunity to first present the findings at its greatly attended Annual Conference for the region.”

PCMA’s three-day “Interaction with Intention” Annual Conference programme was designed to ensure business events strategists gain tangible learnings that will have a positive impact on their future events.

“PCMA Education Foundation is committed to advancing the business events industry and supporting its future”, Karamat said. “As we operate in such a dynamic and complex industry, it is crucial that we analyse and showcase its tremendous progress and impact on economies and societies and inspire business event strategists to take action and become the disruptors, rather than being disrupted.”

To download the full report, visit For more information on the Foundation, visit

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