There was a palpable buzz in the air during the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives' Crystal Awards ceremony, held November 5 at its international conference in Merida, Mexico—an energy that hasn't been felt since SmithBucklin took over the management of the association two years ago.

Winners were announced during an elegant luncheon reception. Programs were evaluated in the areas of return on investment, creativity, logistics, and their ability to overcome unexpected challenges.

Many of the winning programs were proof that luxury is returning to incentive trips, and included first-class features reminiscent of the early '90s. For example, a WBNS-TV program for top advertisers planned by Travel Dynamics Group, La Jolla, Calif., included a flight from Columbus, Ohio, to Vancouver on a private jet, a sunset cruise on a luxury yacht, a private lunch at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and a floatplane transfer to Whistler.

And the winners are:

°Most Creative Use of an Incentive Program to Solve a Marketing Problem–External Marketing Campaign—Simon Hilton, 212F, Melbourne, Australia, for "The Age"

°Most Creative Use of an Incentive Program to Solve a Marketing Problem–External Marketing Campaign—Bill Bryson, MotivAction, LLC, Minneapolis, Minn., for LexisNexis

°Most Outstanding Incentive Travel Program–5 Nights or More, 5 to 75 Participants—Kim Hester, Travel Dynamics Group, La Jolla, Calif., for WBNS-TV

°Most Outstanding Incentive Travel Program–5 Nights or More, 76 to 200 Participants—Kirsten Strand & Richard K. Lowy, PGI, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for Elar Canada

°Category: Most Outstanding Incentive Travel Program–5 Nights or More, Over 200 Participants—Penny Wing, Incentive Travel LLC, San Diego, Calif., for Viacom Television

°Most Outstanding Incentive Travel Program–5 Nights or More, Over 200 Participants—Morag Donald, Maritz Canada Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, for Nortel Networks

°Most Outstanding Catered Event at an Incentive Program—Harith Wickrema, Harith Productions Ltd., Oreland, Pa., for Viasys Healthcare