A record-breaking 640 incentive travel professionals from 42 countries attended the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) 2020 Global Conference, held January 24-27 at the JW Marriott Parq and The Douglas Autograph Collection hotels in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Limitless was the theme of this year’s conference and I couldn’t be prouder of the limits we pushed with the event design,” said SITE 2020 president Jenn Glynn, CIS, CITP, managing partner of Meeting Encore. “Tahira Endean, SITE’s head of events, had a vision to create a festival experience, which allowed for a higher level of engagement for our attendees. The energy and emotion that was felt from the main stage to the dialogue dens and through our immersive destination experiences all helped to create lasting memories.”
“SITE Global Conference in Vancouver has been record-setting across so many metrics, most notably attendance at 640 attendees, our biggest ever event by far,” said Didier Scaillet, CIS, CITP, SITE’s chief excellence officer. “We also delivered 40 distinct educational sessions across four different stages, creating a truly festival feel. Following on from last year’s Bangkok Manifesto we developed the Vancouver Manifesto, moving from aspiration to action and setting out an agreed set of deliverables for 2020.”
Everyone, from first-time attendees to seasoned veterans, was impressed by the education and networking opportunities the conference offered.
Mary Clare Darland, CIS, CITP, director of Sourcing, Maritz Travel – A Maritz Global Events Company, said that as a first-time attendee to the SITE Global Conference she was impressed by the range of education topics. “From the keynote speakers to the informative breakouts, there was something for everyone. Time to collaborate with fellow chapter leaders was priceless. I also loved the focus on overall health and mental well-being. Education, experiences and most of all connections and reconnections with those in the incentive industry was the return on the time invested,” she explained.
Legacy SITE member Joost de Meyer, CIS, CITP, chairman and CEO, First Incentive Travel, added: “This is the best SITE conference I’ve attended in my 20 years of SITE. Everyone was so well-organized and there was so much energy in every educational session.”
Education ranged from personal development sessions on self-care with tips for weight loss and support for depression and loss to career-building sessions Such as “Designing and innovating incentive travel programs” and “7 deadly sins of a proposal.” And during the conference, attendees could take mental health breaks at the Restoration Lounge sponsored by InHouse Physicians, participate in morning 5K runs and join yoga and SoulCycle classes. Cultural breaks included a tour of Vancouver’s murals and a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Keynotes included a talk by Joost Rigter, who became blind in his 20s. He had the entire audience don blindfolds to experience life out of their comfort zone. And New York Times best-selling author Ben Nemtin challenged everyone with the question (also the title of his book and a tie-in to the conference’s limitless theme), “What do you want to do before you die?”
In addition, SITE celebrated excellence in the industry, honouring eight winners of its 2019 Crystal Awards at a festive lunch.
Technology was also front and center at the conference as more than 7,000 people tuned in via live programming on SITE’s Facebook page.
The 2021 edition of the SITE Global Conference will be held February 3-7, 2021 in Dublin, Ireland.