There was a palpable buzz in the air at the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives' international conference in Mérida, in Mexico's Yúcatan Peninsula, in early November — an energy that hasn't been felt since SmithBucklin took over management of the association two years ago.

At the society's annual meeting, just five minutes into his new role as the association's president, Bill Boyd, CMP, CMM, CITE, and president of Sunbelt Motivation & Travel, Irving, Texas, announced a new capital campaign. FutureSITE is dedicated to raising $3 million for educational programs at upcoming conferences and for programs at the chapter level. Even better, Boyd was able to announce that SITE is already $1.2 million toward that goal (with $300,000 from Marriott International and $250,000 each from Starwood Hotels, Hilton Corp., and Intercontinental Hotels). “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.

The fund-raising efforts will be headed by Roger Dow, formerly senior vice president, global and field sales, Marriott International. Dow moved into a new position as president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America in January but is expected to continue his work with FutureSITE. His 17-person committee includes many incentive industry heavy-hitters.

Planning for educational programs began at the Mérida conference, and included a Bridge the Gap Forum to discuss educational offerings for Gen X/Y members. SITE also celebrated the best incentive practitioners in the business with its annual Crystal Awards. Among the winners: incentive house 212F of Melbourne, Australia; Travel LLC, San Diego; and Travel Dynamics Group, La Jolla, Calif.