Feature Article - November/December 2020

A Closer Look

IMA Keeps Moving Forward

By Deborah L. Vence

Impact of COVID-19

In terms of how the pandemic has affected the incentive market, overall the industry has seen "a slowdown and has had to make the adjustments to remain relevant and as strong as possible in the current environment," Sadek said.

"We have seen some of our members' jobs being impacted. In many cases this may be temporary. The IMA is allowing them to continue as full members during this time, offering them networking opportunities and maintaining contact with them individually, even if not currently affiliated with their previous employer.

"We are also continuing our focus on outside alliances where there are synergies and opportunities for our membership. We are continually evaluating the programming and support we are offering to make sure it reflects the changing environment our member companies and individuals find themselves in. We will also be prepared to expand services when business comes back as we are confident it will," he said.

With many IMA members having been furloughed or losing their positions over the last several months, the IMA has been reaching out to its members to ensure it does everything it can to help.

"We are keeping a directory of all members affected in the hope that we can provide those details to prospective industry employers when they are ready to hire and ramp up again in the near future," Connolly said. "We have also been providing initiatives such as the re-visioned IMA Summit in order to maintain connection for our members in the industry. We remain committed to providing value to our members through all times, difficult and good."

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the travel industry extremely hard, "and everyone has had to pivot from how we service our clients and customers to new opportunities of what is needed to meet current demands and trends." Some of those trends include "quickly expanding rewards offerings, adjusting to the ever-changing airline rules and regulations, to the daily changing travel restrictions," Alderman said.

"The IMA has been invaluable at keeping communications open amongst members, providing a wealth of industry experts and most importantly providing a much-needed support network during a time of great need for all of those working in incentives, not just travel," she added.

Martocci noted that COVID-19 has had an impact on the industry in various ways, "from a body count via layoffs, to travel restrictions, to supply chain issues. These are issues where the IMA has little influence other than to inform and provide a place where folks can turn to seek incentive resources.

"The IMA is aware that folks who are furloughed may want to continue utilizing the industry network for contacts and information," he said. "To help ease the economic hardship the IMA is offering a free 'Members in Transition' membership. This allows members who have lost their position in a member company due to layoff or furlough to receive a membership through the end of 2020."