The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE) this year for the first time split its University, an education-oriented midyear meeting, into two events, one for Europe and for the Americas. The concept got off to a strong start in March when the European University drew 100 persons to Gstaad, Switzerland, and was followed by a successful University of the Americas in late June in Charleston, SC.
More than 300 attendees--a mix of incentive house executives and their suppliers from hotels, destination management companies, convention bureaus, and airlines--met at Charleston Place for three days of seminars and networking. Educational topics ranged from an update on the airline industry by Fay Beauchine, CITE, vice president of reservation sales and services for Northwest Airlines, to a session on cross-cultural planning challenges to a simulated ethics trial, which played out a case between an incentive salesperson and her former employer.
In a panel discussion of incentive travel trends, several panelists said choice is a major issue for today's incentives. Citing a greater diversity in the workforce, Richard Weinstein, director of incentive sales for Carnival Cruise Lines, said incentive planners are finding that "within one program, attendees want different options." They are also looking for more adventurous travel, he said. Anne Wold- Graham, senior vice president for EGR International in New York, NY, agreed. "Attendees want free time and an enormous ability to choose. They want more adventure and more opportunities for individual expression," she said.
SITE plans to add a third University in Asia next year. "We used to just have one University, but we learned that one size does not fit all," says Bob Vitagliano, SITE executive vice president and CEO. "The American market is totally different from the European or Asian markets and our members' educational needs are different. These Universities offer better, targeted education." The 1998 Universities will be in Istanbul in March, Palm Springs, CA in June, and Kota Kinabalu, Borneo in September. On December 3-7, SITE will hold its 1997 International Conference in Singapore. Contact SITE at (212) 575-0910.-