From the Planner’s Desk: IRF 2015 Recap

This is the 3rd year I’ve attended the Incentive Research Foundation Invitational and, once again, the opportunities for learning more about this specific niche and the impact it has on the industry is unparalleled.

As a foundation focused on research, the IRF is on the pulse of the industry, and through its many multi-faceted studies shows where we are going and how we are changing the face of business. The IRF has been tracking digital disruptors and the changing face of mobile across all areas of travel and specifically incentives, and hearing what they have to say is a great benchmark.

The IRF has partnered with QuickMobile for a number of years to deliver an integrated mobile experience and seeing it come to life each year is inspiring. The IRF first incorporated a mobile app at its annual event in 2013 and afterwards, the IRF team spoke about social gaming (gamification), technology and its impact on our future planning for incentive programs.

In 2014, we worked with the IRF to develop a game based around happiness, that elusive feeling we work towards achieving when we ask participants if they “enjoyed the program.” This year, the game had players focused on meeting sponsors and board members, sharing innovative thoughts and ideas, and connecting with each other over sharing these. In both cases, the gamification layer encouraged positive meeting behaviour and made it trackable with analytics to support the overall feeling that it ‘went well.’

Education Day began with Rodger Stoltz, the Incentive Research Foundation’s Head Researcher, noting in his presentation that mobile is here to stay, which we are seeing in the reality of the Mobile Mind Shift happening all around us.  The thought-provoking presentations were wrapped in a layer of innovative thinking and how this can be applied in programming and future forward thinking about incentives in the digital age. This was all thoughtfully summed up by Mike Walsh’s presentation, a speaker known for sharing real-time trends and shifts, and how they are impacting our daily lives and our organizations and meetings.

As always, the time is well spent here as the conversations carry through activities and events, and allow us to consider how as partners in the incentive industry we all work together to adapt to the changing workforce, expectations and economic realities. I look forward to next year’s IRF Invitational!


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