Feature Article - November/December 2020

A Closer Look

IMA Keeps Moving Forward

By Deborah L. Vence

Future Outlook

As far as the outlook for the industry, "Employee incentive and recognition will always be important, whether they work from office or home," Sadek said.

"We are already seeing some businesses improve, and that will continue. We know there is pent-up demand for leisure and business travel, dining and entertainment, gifts, and aspirational merchandise," he said. "Once things normalize, we will see demand come back. The mix and delivery may be slightly different, but our members will make the adjustments to succeed."

Connolly believes the industry is at the beginning of a "bounce back."

"We see a number of those paused programs mentioned earlier with confirmed launch dates for Q4 of this year and Q1 of next year," he said. "On the sales and marketing side of the house, I believe it will be even more important to engage our channel and our customers. On the HR side of things, I believe there is great opportunity. As the workforce changes forever, we are now part of a sea-change moment. Our industry has an opportunity to be part of that change and help engage and recognize our employees and teams in this new world."

Alderman feels that "with the New Year, we will be beginning to come back stronger than ever.

"As life in general begins its 'new normal,' we need to recognize employees, consumers, professionals and all that have stood together during a most unusual time in our lives. We'll be wanting to say thank you! Rewards and recognition will be the spotlight of many companies as they take on new diversity initiatives, thank their customers for their loyalty through a difficult year and, most of all, thank their team members. We have all had to adapt to something outside our comfort zone," she said.

Martocci said that "With all this change comes opportunity.

"So, for me, that has me optimistic especially as a manufacturer's rep of merchandise," he said. "The supply chain gets better every day, and the 'out of stocks' of today will have those products shortly. I am not going to say my path is exactly the same as someone more heavily reliant on the travel sector, for example, which may need a longer recovery time. But I know of and hear from people who want to go places now and will do so again as soon as they are comfortable.

"Our industry was performing at record levels across sectors before this pandemic and shutdown. That is because incentives get the results corporations desire," Martocci said.

"Companies will use incentives again to help pull them out of their own unique situations COVID-19 created," he added, "as well as help them regain and exceed levels of sales or production they desire as they seek to thrive."