by Alex Palmer | April 10, 2017
Attendees at this year's SITE Incentive Summit Americas, held April 6-9 in Vail, CO, enjoyed an action-packed weekend of networking, education, and incentive experiences. The invitation-only event brought together 90 hosted buyers as well as top incentive suppliers for a mix of business and educational activities, getting to know the destination by experiencing some of the local incentive offerings. 

The itinerary showcased Vail's incentive attractions, including a number of the city's top culinary and cultural spots, as well as outdoor activities. It also spotlighted three incentive hotels in the center of Vail Village: Four Seasons Resort Vail, Sonnenalp Hotel, and The Sebastian - Vail.

"With three hotels, three DMCs, and two CVBs, the team came together in support of SITE and truly partnered to create an unforgettable event experience," said Philip Eidsvold, CIS, SITE vice president of finance and business development and Aimia account director, who served as event chair. "This year's Incentive Summit Americas included 45 extremely influential and decision-making hosted buyers that are eager to learn more about the destination and why it is a great year-round destination for Incentive Travel."

To celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day, which occurred on the first day of the event, SITE CEO Kevin Hinton kicked off a general session by playing part of the "Global Meetings Industry Day Anthem" which highlighted SITE's support for industry-wide advocacy efforts like Meetings Mean Business and the Joint Meetings Industry Council. He discussed SITE's own efforts to meet the needs of corporate buyers and to make the business case for the use of incentive travel, meeting company- and industry-specific objectives like in areas such as employee retention and brand loyally.

Keynote speaker Tina Sampson, vice president of sales for Vail Resorts, discussed leadership lessons learned over her career, including specific considerations for female leaders and how they can serve as models for their female colleagues. Jeff Klem, vice president of talent development for Vail Resorts, delivered his own keynote with an exercise hightlighting the difference between "Yes, AND…" versus "No, BUT…" when seeking to foster creativity and inclusiveness.

For part of the day, attendees broke into "Learning Lounges" where subject matter experts led discussions on specific topics including Contract Issues, How to Drive ROI/ROO, and Trends Impacting Incentive Travel. 

Eidsvold emphasized that the event was aimed at providing members and supporters "an incentive-travel experience while experiencing a world-class destination, inclusive of compelling education and unparalleled networking with influential customers."

SITE did just that with an itinerary packed with activities: A culinary tour hosted by Operation Altitude that gave attendees the chance to sample some of the destination's top chefs and restaurants; skiing and snowboarding outings hosted by Vail Resorts; snowshoeing organized by DSC an AlliedPRA Company, providing a backcountry tour of Vail Valley wilderness; as well as a snowmobiling outing at Horn Ranch, hosted by RMC.

"Incentive travel relies upon unique experiences that are meaningful, motivational and memorable and this summit provided for learning by doing for all attendees, including unique gift experiences, activities and formal learning," added Eidsvold. "But, what is most important is that we maintain a strong community and this event has in both years provided for each attendee to feel part of a family experience that will yield personal and professional returns for a long time into the future."

Next year's Summit will be held in Park City, UT.

Photography: Maura Dominguez-Zhang, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao