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SITE Global Conference bridges cultural gap

Creativity and cultural awareness key themes for incentive travel as SITE launches first-ever manifesto in Bangkok.

The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Global Conference took place in Bangkok last week (Jan 11-13), with a focus on authenticity, creativity and cultural understanding.

An exclusive dinner for SITE’s Board of Directors and Foundation Trustees at Thai Princess Mom Rajawongse Narisa Chakrabongse’s private residence kicked off proceedings, followed by plenary sessions at the Shangri-La Bangkok, daily alms offerings to local monks, and a series of cultural immersion activities along the Bangkok River Creative District.

Thai Princess Mom Rajawongse Narisa Chakrabongse shows SITE executives around her private residence

“This SITE Global Conference has been one of our most successful, if not the most successful,” SITE 2019 president, Philip Eidsvold says.

Some of the region’s leading event professionals, such as China Star CEO Ping Liu, Directions CIM CEO, Damion Breust, and BI Worldwide’s Marine Debatte, shared their personal stories to demonstrate the importance of cultural awareness.

“The first step to embracing diversity is awareness,” Debatte says. “To become bridge-builders we need to elevate our perspective and increase cross-cultural awareness.”

SITE executives also harnessed the knowledge of board members and conference delegates to compile The Bangkok Manifesto, a series of statements that highlight the association’s vision for the future of incentive travel.

“These will be our [mission] statements for 2019,” SITE chief marketing officer, Padraic Gilligan, says. “And at our 2020 conference in Vancouver we’ll have the opportunity to do it again. This is an ongoing, dynamic journey.”

A total of 15 statements were presented to SITE members and conference attendees, who participated in a live vote to select a final 10 for the manifesto:

  1. The interests, aspirations and perspectives of incentive programme participants should be placed centre stage in our industry’s strategic thinking and advocacy work.
  2. Inclusivity should become a critical concept for our industry—we believe that incentive travel changes behaviour and builds motivation at all levels of an organisation.
  3. Relationships and teamwork build business results, not isolated individual effort. And nothing creates and strengthens relationships more effectively than shared incentive travel experiences.
  4. Incentive travel helps to create corporate cultures that are fuelled by motivation and focused on future success.
  5. Incentive travel drives human capital excellence and innovation within destinations, with profound benefits for other targeted business segments.
  6. Our industry must encourage more second and third-tier cities and non-urban destinations to embrace incentive travel as part of their business mix, highlighting that success in our business is not dependent on massive infrastructure or investment.
  7. The definition of luxury has changed. The era of logos and brands is ending. Luxury in future will be defined by authentic, unique and personal experiences.
  8. Every stakeholder in the incentive travel community should embrace social responsibility as a core part of their business philosophy, and recognise that our business practices and policies will define how that responsibility is exercised.
  9. Emerging destinations that include incentive travel in their strategic plans will experience faster economic growth and human capital development than would otherwise be the case.
  10. Incentive travel contributes significantly to economic growth, partnerships within and between organisations, and innovative thinking by both participants and the organisations that create the programmes.