The unique and evolving needs of the incentive travel market 
Kevin Hinton, CIS, Chief Excellence Officer, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE)
On 20 January you will kick off the SITE Executive Summit. Is there a specific theme for your conference?
The SITE Executive Summit is an annual education event that takes the SITE International Board of Directors and SITE Foundation Trustees to a destination that has the potential to grow its incentive travel business and can leverage the experience and knowledge of this group of global industry leaders. The goal of the Summit is to assist destinations by broadening the local community's understanding of the unique and evolving needs of the incentive travel market. During the education day, participants from the Irish incentive travel community will learn from an unparalleled panel of experts how to market their destination, gain insight on the latest incentive travel trends and receive practical knowledge that they can immediately apply to grow their business.
What will be the highlights and main results of the conference?
• We will kick off 2017 by bringing together leaders from our Governance and Foundation boards for a joint board meeting, providing an opportunity for board members to build stronger relationships with each other to better support the mission of SITE and the SITE Foundation to strengthen the incentive travel industry, globally.
• Our volunteer leaders will be facilitating an all-day education program with leaders from the Irish incentive travel community and board members from SITE Ireland, which has created a very strong chapter within the country.
• Throughout the Summit week, we will be experiencing the unique incentive offerings of Ireland and provide real-time feedback to our hosts on how they compare to other destinations and discuss what factors are most important to drive decisions for incentive travel. We will also be meeting with Irish government officials to help them better understand the needs and opportunities of the incentive sector in Ireland.
• Our primary goal is to bring together incentive industry professionals from across Ireland and strengthen their sense of community within SITE Ireland and externally with SITE members and chapters around the world.
For your congress you have chosen Dublin. Why?
Meet In Ireland is hosting the Executive Summit 2017 as part of its strategy to re-position Dublin and Ireland as incentive destination that has undergone transformation, investment, and is not the same destination it was just a few years ago. We also have an opportunity to send a delegation to Belfast, Northern Ireland to support the region’s efforts to attract incentive travel programs. Belfast is a new incentive destination and our delegates will be evaluating the offerings in Belfast and meeting with the local government officials to assist and support their investments in our sector.
For those delegates who cannot join you in Ireland, can they participate remotely?
Good question – while we will not be able to provide for a virtual audience, we will be broadcasting highlights on social media throughout the week.
What are the main challenges for SITE these days?
Our membership has grown nicely in 2016 – about 8% – and we are stable in Europe with 500 members. We want to better support the incentive sector in Europe and believe that content and research are the best vehicles for accomplishing that and serving our members. We are planning to invest in new research to provide data, including business case studies from the region, on why companies are investing in incentive travel to accomplish their business goals – and more precisely what those business objectives are. We need to bridge the gap between the power of the travel experience and productivity, engagement, loyalty and, on a bigger scale, serve as a source of positivity for the economic outlook for Europe and the EMEA region. In a time when there is a populist call for isolationism, SITE is a champion for the global business marketplace, particularly for the experiences that serve as real inspiration for people, whether they be across the street or across the globe!