by Leo Jakobson | January 19, 2018
At a very successful SITE + MPI Global Forum in Rome this week, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence and Meeting Professionals International announced plans to continue to work together on industry issues and collaborative events going forward. The agreement, named for the Treaty of Rome that created the precursor organization of the European Union, is more of a general statement of intentions than a detailed partnership.

It says that because both organizations are "dedicated to creating synergy for the benefit of their members and the industry as a whole," and have "a shared interest in advocating for meetings, incentives, conventions, and events professionals around the world," that SITE and MPI have committed to "future cooperation and collaboration with each other for the benefit of industry professionals globally."

The Global Forum took place on January 12-14 at the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria, attracting nearly 600 incentive and meeting professionals for three days of education, innovation and networking. Attendees from more than 50 countries attended, with more than half from Europe and more than one third from North America. More than 100 attendees were first-timers to both organizations' events.

Kevin Hinton, who is stepping down as SITE's chief excellence officer at the end of the month, said "As past chair of MPI, I felt very proud to be part of this coming together of SITE and MPI members to share in an unforgettable experience. I heard this throughout the event from delegates who were soaking up the learning and relishing their time meeting new people - leaders of our industry from around the world."

The Global Forum's education offerings were on three tracks, including separate ones for incentive travel executives and for meeting management professionals, and a third for concurrent sessions covering areas of interest to both groups. In another first, the opening session speaker was a tourism minister - Dario Franceschini, who heads up the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

"The success of the Global Forum was due to clear ideas and a willingness to collaborate," said the new SITE president, Annamaria Ruffini, CIS, CMP, who is president and CEO of Events In & Out S.R.L. in Rome. "The event proved that alliances in the incentive and meeting industry are possible and fruitful," she added, noting that the SITE and MPI "Treaty of Rome of the Incentive and Meeting Industry is a simple but powerful beginning of our new commitment to future collaboration. Together we are stronger and will be able to produce real change."

The event was also many SITE members' first introduction to Didier Scaillet, who will take over from Hinton as SITE's CEO on February 1. In addition, the organization has also brought on board a new chief marketing officer, Pádraic Gilligan, a highly regarded industry veteran. Gilligan's firm, SoolNua, will be the new strategic marketing partner of SITE and the SITE Foundation