After several years of serious illness, Paul Flackett, CITE, Managing Director of the IMEX Group and long-time friend, collaborator and business partner of IMEX Chairman, Ray Bloom, has passed away. He was a great friend and valued mentor to industry colleagues in all corners of the world thanks to a career in the global meetings and events industry that spanned 30+ years. Paul joined Bloom to launch EIBTM (now known as ibtm world) in 1987 and was managing director until it was sold to Reed Travel Exhibitions. In 2001 he linked up again with Bloom to launch IMEX in Frankfurt in 2003.
Paul became a SITE member in 1988 and served as president of both SITE (1995) and the SITE Foundation (2002), earning the prestigious Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation in 1994. During his year as SITE president, a new mission statement was approved by the board: The Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE) is a worldwide organization of business professionals dedicated to the recognition and development of motivational and performance improvement strategies of which travel is a key component. It recognizes the global cultural differences and practices in developing these strategies and serves as a prime networking and educational opportunity for its members.
IMEX, together with Paul’s closest industry friends, will be organising a memorial for the industry on Monday 15 January 2018, in London. Details about location and timings will be sent out in the coming weeks.The family has requested that flowers are not sent, however, condolences are welcome to be sent to the IMEX offices and they will ensure that Paul’s family receive these. Charitable donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to Kidney Research UK here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paulflackett. This web page will continue to be updated with the memorial arrangements: https://www.imexexhibitions.com/about-us/paul-flackett.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Paul in 2013, in recognition of SITE's 40th Anniversary.
"On joining Ray Bloom in 1987 to work on the launch of EIBTM in Geneva we made it a priority to get close with all the major industry associations across the globe. This obviously included SITE and so I found myself in Arizona in the middle of summer at a SITE University. You would have spotted me right away - in temperatures of 100 degrees plus - I was the Englishman in a jacket, shirt and tie. What impressed me was the high level of education for a subject I frankly knew little about. Most important of all Patrick Delaney was the event chair and he walked into the auditorium like a god, dressed in un-pressed trousers and a green polo shirt with the collar turned up. I knew I had to meet this guy and, now many years later, he is my best friend and still blazing trails.
I also met amazing people like Fay Beauchine, Jane Schuldt, Patti Roscoe and many others who became instant heroes and heroines to my novice eyes. Again, their knowledge and friendship endured for many years. People like Jim Dittman and Bob Guerrero regaled me with tales of the “early years” when the drink trolley would enter the board meetings in the afternoon, ensuring conversations got even livelier. About a year later the aforementioned people put a full court press on me to run for the Board. Suddenly I was a SITE Board Member. Patrick Delaney was the Chair and legends such as Harvey Grotsky, Sally Barnes, Carol Abrioux, Connie Goldstein and John Udell were fellow Board members.
By then I was travelling the world for EIBTM and had discovered New Zealand as my favourite place in the whole world. So to be elected president at the 1994 SITE Conference in New Zealand was a landmark for my career. Just weeks before I had gained the CITE, thus hopefully proving that the trade show guy at least knew something about the industry. My year as SITE president was fast paced and over before I realized it. I handed the gavel over to Louise Reider at the SITE Conference in San Antonio - another personal favourite place. Since then I have chaired a SITE Conference in Las Vegas, worked on several SITE events around the world and have presented many SITE seminars with Patrick Delaney. I also helped four other people from different corners of the globe gain their CITE. In 2002 I served as president of the SITE Foundation where I learned about the real mechanics of the incentive travel and motivational events industry.
Today, SITE is a true global association – with members in places and destinations never seen before - and it must continue to grow by creating, developing and spreading motivational knowledge through its global membership. Inspiring higher performance levels can only come from shared knowledge. SITE must continue to embrace and adopt new ideas and strategies in emerging markets where success is proven and stay on top of who is driving our global industry. We also need to engage more Corporate Buyers as well, to better understand their needs and how SITE can help them achieve the desired business results from their incentive travel and motivational events investments."
Below are some tributes from Paul's friends and colleagues in the SITE community:
“Today is a day for deep sadness as well as fond reflection. Paul has been by my side as a friend and in business for over 30 years and was an inspiration to us all in how he conducted himself throughout his career, in particular, the humour he brought to us all. He was a friend and mentor to so many in the industry and I know that he will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.” - Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX Group
"Paul was a great friend and long-time supporter of SITE. Although I never had the opportunity to personally know him well, hearing words of praise from so many industry colleagues makes me understand how special he was. Paul was indeed a legend in our industry." - Rajeev Kohli, CIS, SITE President
"Paul hosted many Past President’s Council meetings at the IMEX shows, has been the voice behind the announcement of the SITE Master Motivator award, and has always treated SITE and his association colleagues with an extra special touch of love and class. We will miss him dearly, remember him fondly and carry on his cheerful exuberance for SITE." - Kevin Hinton, CIS, SITE CEO