Site made the headlines at the end of last year by announcing the departure of longtime leader and CEO Brenda Anderson and deciding that the board would take a more active role in representing the association to the industry. The head of that group is Alejandro Verzoub, AV Business & Communication, Buenos Aires, Argentina, who will serve as 2012 Site president. Verzoub has dedicated much of his time over the past few years to Site, serving on the board of directors since 2009. Editor Barbara Scofidio caught up with him to discuss his plans.
Corporate Meetings & Incentives: With Brenda Anderson’s departure, Site announced a shift “from building external partnerships to investing in programming and education to support the needs of members.” How has the organization done that?
Alejandro Verzoub: We are experiencing a new cycle in our organization, where leadership and advocacy are now being distributed differently. One major goal has been to change the perception that Site is U.S.-centric, which I have heard since I joined this association. So we as a board have been focusing on our regions. I will be Site’s first president who is not from Europe or North America, so I can share insights on our industry from another business culture.
We are also changing our board structure to adapt to the geographic reality of our industry: We are electing one Site board director to represent China and another for Asia/Pacific. We think that there are several growth opportunities in India (we opened a chapter there this year), in South America (I opened a chapter this year), and, of course, in China. We are having our 2012 International Conference in Beijing.
I am excited to be part of this journey—my only hope is to keep some balance between my company, Site, my family, and my physical and mental health!
CMI: The year’s Crystal Awards have more categories related to corporate social responsibility in incentive programs. Are Site’s members doing more of this?
Verzoub: I had the privilege to be awarded a Crystal in 2000 and 2005. This year, we presented two entries for the Crystal Awards and one was aactivity during an incentive trip. Due to the positive results among the participants and the local press the program received, the president of the client company took our recommendation and will be including a similar activity every year—no matter what the destination is. So if that is any indication, then, yes, the answer is that Site members are paying more attention to CSR activities.
CMI: What’s ahead in terms of Site’s research efforts?
Verzoub: Our annual survey will determine what makes incentive travel motivational (thereby driving desired business results), meaningful (having value for the participants, both qualifiers and nonqualifiers), and memorable (creating long-term loyalty and improved production). It will also measure what impact changes in a company’s incentive travel offerings have on those three things.
CMI: The Site Nite networking event has been an incredible success, and our magazine is excited to be co-locating our CMI 25 reception with Site Nite again this year at IMEX America in Las Vegas. Can you share some of the plans for your event?
Verzoub: The fourth annual Site Nite North America will be hosted at the Encore Beach Club on Monday, October 10. The Site Nite host committee, along with our Diamond Sponsor Wynn Las Vegas, is expecting over 900 industry colleagues to attend—like last year, we should have a sell-out crowd.
CMI: What percentage of Site’s membership is outside the U.S.? Are these members seeing more incentive business from the U.S. as the economy slowly improves?
Verzoub: Thirty-eight percent of Site’s membership is based in the U.S. and 62 percent is from outside the U.S. We have a total of 1,950 members. Without a doubt, the U.S. is one of the biggest sources of outbound business in the world, and clearly the environment for incentives and motivational events is better now than it was 12 or 18 months ago.