The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives has launched FutureSITE, an unprecedented capital campaign that hopes to raise $3 million in the coming year for new educational programs at its international conference, as well as at the chapter level. In an audioconference last week, SITE President-Elect Bill Boyd, CMP, CMM, CITE and president of Sunbelt Motivation & Travel, Irving, Texas, announced that a fund-raising committee had already raised $1.2 million toward that goal. That includes a $300,000 donation from Marriott International; $250,000 each from Starwood Hotels, Hilton Corp., and Intercontinental Hotels; and pledges from 20 incentive companies, hotels, and destination management firms.

"To implement something of this magnitude coming out of this economy and have it greeted in such a positive way is huge news for the incentive industry," said an elated Boyd at the press conference. The fund-raising efforts, the first in the association’s history, will be headed by Roger Dow, senior vice president, global and field sales, for Marriott International. (Dow will be moving into a new position as president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association in January, but is expected to continue his work with FutureSITE, according to a SITE spokesman.

SITE has organized a 17-person committee to work with Dow; the committee includes many incentive industry heavy-hitters and has established various levels of giving, from Visionary Partners ($250,000+) to Patrons (under $1,000).

Planning for educational programs began at SITE’s international conference, held last Thursday through Sunday in Merida, Mexico, and included a "Bridge the Gap Forum" to discuss educational offerings for Gen X/Y members. SITE also plans to use some of the money for scholarships toward its November 2005 international conference in Toronto.