by Leo Jakobson | January 11, 2018
The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) has named meetings and incentive industry association veteran Didier Scaillet its new CEO.

Scaillet takes over on Feb. 1, replacing Kevin Hinton, who late last year announced he would be stepping down as SITE's Chief Excellence Officer at the end of this month, following the inaugural SITE + MPI Global Forum in Rome on Jan. 12-14.

Scaillet was chosen by the board of directors of SITE and the board of trustees of the SITE Foundation following a very vigorous but abbreviated search that began in October. A dozen candidates were narrowed down to three finalists, with interviews and selection running through the holiday season. Scaillet will head both SITE and the SITE Foundation, the education and research arm of the association.

"Finding an experienced professional to fill Kevin's shoes was not an easy task," said Annamaria Ruffini, CIS, CMP, the 2018 SITE president, who is president and CEO of Rome-based Events In & Out, S.R.L., in a statement. "After rigorous interviews, we all agreed that Didier has the highest degree of association management experience, knowledge of the global MICE landscape, and clearly articulates a strategic vision for SITE."

A key factor in selecting Scaillet was his extensive international experience and understanding that incentive travel works very differently in different countries. This reflects the fact that about half of SITE's 2,200 members are from outside the U.S., representing 84 countries. After starting his career with one of Europe's first association management companies, Scaillet has held a number of executive positions at Meeting Professionals International (MPI), and more recently was vice president of business development for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

"Didier will be able to transfer his success in fundraising at the MPI Foundation, coupled with his experience managing global research for CLIA, to help the Foundation trustees advance our mission, said John J. Iannini, CIS, CTC, who is the SITE Foundation's president for 2018 as well as vice-president, business travel and meetings & events Americas, for Melia Hotels International. "We are eager to collaborate to strengthen our brand pillars and bring our members and the global incentive industry more relevant content and research to prove that incentive travel directly correlates to business results."

Scaillet has also served on a variety of related industry groups and organizations, including the Joint Meetings Industry Council, Events Industry Council, Canadian Tourism Commission, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

He was also instrumental in the development of the Meetings & Business Events Competency Standards, which SITE says is the "backbone for the development of SITE's competency-based education model for incentive professionals."

Scaillet will be relocating from Belgium to the U.S. to take up the position. "I am very excited and honored to be serving the SITE community, its leadership and the incentive travel industry at large," he said in a statement. "The organization is going through some major transformations, with many opportunities to seize global growth, advocacy, value-added content, digital engagement, and sustainability" Noting that SITE, its chapters and various associated groups such as the SITE Foundation and SITE Young Leaders attract "passionate, inspiring and dedicated industry leaders," Scaillet added, "I am looking forward to an amazing journey, building a stronger voice for incentive travel worldwide."