Discussions continue between the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives and the former SITE Foundation — now The Incentive Research Foundation (www.theirf.org) — although all signs point to a permanent severing of ties.

The foundation's mission, according to Executive Director Frank Katusak, is to do research studies on all forms of incentives — not just travel — which it believes “identifies its relationship and service to the global incentive industry.” This, according to a SITE spokeswoman (CEO Brenda Anderson could not be reached for comment), was not the foundation's original intention, “which was to serve the association's travel industry membership.”

But Katusak says that the foundation's mission remains the same as it always was: “To fund and promote research to advance the science and to enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in industry globally.

“Our goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that use incentives and others interested in improved performance.” This mission embraces an emphasis on incentive travel research, he says.

Mixed Messages

In a recent move, SITE's board of directors voted no to the foundation's request to pursue the name change and for SITE to relinquish any governance of the foundation through bylaw changes. A press release after the vote stated that “The Board does not support the Foundation's desire to re-launch and believes this misguided desire is not in the best interest of SITE's membership or the industry.”

However, all signs indicate that once the legalities are sorted out, the separation of the two entities will remain permanent. Despite its board's stand, SITE is expected to announce a new research initiative at its International Conference in Barcelona next month, and at press time was in the process of securing Pebble Beach as the site of a fundraising tournament to support that initiative. The event will be held before SITE's 2007 International Conference in Monterey next December.

Meanwhile, Katusak continues to make plans for The IRF to move ahead with several new projects, including a profile of the incentive travel industry, an ROI study, a study on matching awards with program objectives, and a study on industry trends.

“We want to fund research that will help increase the size of the industry, and we feel our studies are the best way to do it,” he says.

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