The Society of Incentive and Travel Executives' annual International Conference, which wrapped up Sunday in Monterey, Calif., introduced the concept of sustainable incentives to 450 attendees from around the globe through its education sessions and planning practices.

SITE "walked the talk" for this meeting, offering Hertz "eco-cars" for rent, distributing conference handouts on flash drives, choosing refillable sports bottles over disposable plastic water bottles, and more. One evening event was held at the world-famous Monterey Aquarium, where guests learned about sustainable fishing and were given resources for menu planning that could help them choose fish that weren't improperly caught or overfarmed.

The meeting's speakers reinforced the green message, led by National Geographic photographer Steve Uzell, who shared his remarkable images from the world. The roster also included Amy Spatrisano, principal of Meeting Stategies Worldwide, who focused on green meeting and hotel practices; and Linda Baum, president of Exclusive Destinations, who spoke on sustainable tourism.

The IC, as it's known, was preceded by the International SITE Foundation's first-ever golf event—held at Monterey Peninsula’s Pebble Beach Resorts—which raised funds for the new research arm of SITE. Next year's event will be held September 11 to 14 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Another highlight of the meeting was the annual Crystal Awards luncheon, honoring the most outstanding incentive programs of the year. In line with the meeting's theme, there was a new award category for sustainable incentive events, won by Uwin Iwin Incentives of Johannesburg, South Africa, for its client, Momentum South Africa. The winning program took qualifiers on a trip to Botswana that included the chance to be part of an expedition charged with placing tracking collars on two wild elephants. The second winner in that category was a program by Carlson Marketing for Oracle that used local sourcing by employing 27 South African women to make the garments for the final gala and resulted in their opening a full-time business. (For a full list of SITE Crystal Award winners, click here

The society also welcomed its new president for 2008, Padraic Gilligan of Ovation Global DMC, Dublin, Ireland, whose first charge is a branding campaign to be developed from research now being done on the purpose and future of the association. He also introduced a new association-wide fitness challenge, where chapter members will log the amount of exercise they do every day in return for "miles" that will earn money for UNICEF.—Barbara Scofidio