1. DMCs. DMCs are my go-to network whenever I need to know the inner workings of a destination. They’re on the ground and plugged into everything new—the true ambassadors of a city. I have never met a DMC I didn’t like, from the ebullient Bonnie Boyd in New Orleans to industry leaders Patrick Delaney and Padraic Gilligan of Ovation Global in Ireland.

2. The Site Foundation and the Incentive Research Foundation. Since the split of these two organizations, we’ve gotten some of the best incentive research ever. Most recently, Site explored incentives from the viewpoint of the participants (including those who didn’t qualify).

3. The IRF Invitational. I’ll be in San Antonio at the end of May for this annual event, which has evolved from a golf tournament into much more. This year will include sessions on adding gaming to your program and fast-tracking visa procedures.

4. Educating the general public on the industry. Let’s continue to promote research by McKinsey, Aberdeen, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and other major firms on the value of incentives (like the IRF just did) and have them tell our story to the mainstream media.

5. That the premise of incentive travel has endured the test of time. An incentive travel experience has to be something that participants could never create on their own. The economy has forced incentive planners to be creative, and we’ve learned that adding elements of surprise and exclusivity doesn’t necessarily require a huge budget.

I will never forget one incentive trip I attended in the Philippines, where an entire village held a parade in our honor, with all the townspeople sitting on their front porches as we went past on jeepneys. Those days might be over, but the incentive industry is just getting started.

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