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by Vincent Alonzo | September 29, 2015
This year on September 11th, I found myself on a U.S. Airways flight flying back from Charlotte, N.C. to New York. I was returning home from SMU Southeast, an event run by our sister publication, Successful Meetings. As we made our final descent into LaGuardia Airport, I looked out of the window and caught a fleeting glimpse of the mostly finished new World Trade Center site.

At that moment, I suddenly realized that this had been a bucket-list item for me, albeit one that had been lurking in my subconscious for the last 14 years. You see, I began the morning of 9/11 preparing to go to LaGuardia Airport to catch a flight to Chicago to moderate a panel at a one-day even Incentive was sponsoring with the Incentive Manufacturers and Representative Alliance. Obviously, I never got there. My flight, along with hundreds of others, was cancelled on that day so I went to work instead.

As my flight continued its descent, I experienced an emotion that I usually have when I achieve a small victory. It felt good to be in the air over lower Manhattan on this most recent incarnation of September 11th, especially since I was returning from a successful show that my company had organized to bring together buyers and sellers of meetings and incentives.

The feeling didn't subside when I returned to my office, and began production on this issue. It pleases me greatly to report that our cover story, which begins on page 10, and features excerpts from our 14th Annual Industry Roundtable, contains news of strong growth in all incentive award categories. This assessment comes straight from some of the top thinkers in the incentive business.

In July, we gathered at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel for a discussion of the key issues facing the industry. It was truly a privilege to be in the room and listen to these seasoned pros exchange insights about the incentive industry, especially since what they had to say was so positive. I don't have to remind anyone who has been in this business long enough to recall, but the bottom dropped out of the incentive industry in the wake of 9/11, especially on the travel side of the business. It has definitely been a bumpy ride since that infamous day. That is why it's also great to see that on September 11, 2015, the industry is thriving -- and that's no small victory.