This has been a year of great advancement for the Society for Incentive Excellence (SITE) Foundation and 2017 promises to deliver even more valuable research, education and certification to SITE members worldwide, as well as to the broader incentive travel industry and global business community.
The primary role of the Foundation and its Board of Trustees is to drive fundraising initiatives to facilitate vital research and curriculum development for the incentive travel community. Its three annual events – SITE Classic, SITE Nite Europe and SITE Nite North America – are unique, incentive-quality networking events that provide the majority of the Foundation’s funding. SITE Nite North America, one of the most popular events of IMEX America week, sold out with more than 1200 people in attendance. And, for a second year the Foundation hosted Auction 2.0 where the public was invited to bid on 75 unique travel experiences – more than 4500 people visited the online site raising more than $110,000.
“On behalf of the Foundation Trustees, I would like to thank all of our sponsors and guests for their generous support of our fundraising initiatives this year. We are thrilled with the exceptional results achieved, surpassing our goals and raising more than $425,000 for future investments for our members and the incentive travel industry. For 2017, our successful fundraising has created the largest volume of grant approval in the Foundation’s history,” stated Foundation president, Denise Dornfeld, CIS, chairperson, AlliedPRA. “I especially want to recognize Foundation vice-president fundraising, John J. Iannini, CIS, CTC, vice-president sales, Melia Hotels International for his commitment and leadership; SITE Classic event chairs, Caren Bigelow, director of travel, USMotivation and Madelyn Marusa, DMCP, vice-president industry relations, AlliedPRA; SITE Nite event chairs Ron Warner, CIS, regional director sales, Melia Hotels International and Mary Clare Darland, CIS, manager sourcing, Maritz Travel, and the countless volunteers for their extraordinary efforts to help us deliver such high-quality events, which exceeded our goals.”
This year the Foundation invested in an extensive job analysis study to develop competency-based curriculum specifically for incentive travel professionals, forming a foundation for SITE’s current, as well as future, training and certification programs. For 2017, the Trustees have approved a $150,000 grant for development of new education and certification for members, including an online learning management center and a “mid-level” certification program, specifically designed for Manager and Director level incentive professionals.
The Foundation is also investing $280,000 in new research for 2017. Early next year “Participants’ Viewpoint India” will be released – a continuation of the popular U.S. and U.K. studies that probe participants’ beliefs about incentive travel programs and their effectiveness. Plans are also underway for similar studies in China and Mexico. Additional research includes a study of the European Incentive Market, as well as the annual SITE Index, in partnership with J.D. Power.
During the SITE Global Conference in Panama, Rhea Stagner, CIS, division vice-president sourcing and supplier relations, Maritz Travel will accept the gavel as SITE Foundation President 2017. “I am honored to be serving as SITE Foundation President in 2017 working with our Board of Trustees, a distinguished group of global industry executives, to continue the momentum from 2016 and prior years. In today’s business environment, we must be equipped to define our relevancy, respond quickly to shifts in the marketplace and translate new intelligence into strategies that will meet the needs of our customers and members.”