Paradisus Playa del Carmen, Tropical Incentives, JSAV and SITE Midwest itself all invested significant cash and in-kind funds to ensure the resounding success of the inaugural SITE Midwest SMART Summit that brought almost 70 incentive travel professionals to the Mexican resort, 6 – 9 June last.
“The event was successful beyond our wildest expectations and yet, on reflection, when you’ve got a team of incentive travel professionals, all working together for a common purpose then, inevitably, success is certain to come.
This was our first SITE Midwest multi-day event. Using the “story arc” methodology of event consultants, Unbridled, we built the conference around three pillars – adapt, respond, transform – and delivered a coherent, integrated and deeply meaningful event experience to our attendees”, said Mary Clare Darland, President of SITE Midwest.
Paradisus Playa del Carmen, Tropical Incentives and JSAV were the key sponsor-partners who invested generously to deliver a high octane, motivational event, going above and beyond with décor, audio visual support and entertainment. Participants were wowed by an exceptional education program that included Detective Kevin Coffey, formerly of LAPD, an expert on safety and security and well known professional speaker Jerome Wade (sponsored by Caesar’s Entertainment) who highlighted ways to avoid burnout and stress. SITE favourites, Didier Scaillet (SITE, CEO), Tahira Endean SITE, Head of Events), Brandi Ronk (Melia) and Stan Hershenow (InterContinental Hotels Group) added industry perspective to a brilliant program.
Perhaps the most lasting memory of a truly impactful event was the CSR activity organised under the aegis of SITE Midwest board member, Ashley Lawson, VP Business Partnerships, Achieve Incentives and Meetings. Having identified a pressing financial need amongst the service team at Paradisus, Ashley diverted the entire CSR activity to Carlos, the son of a Paradisus employee in need of urgent brain surgery to assist with his extreme epilepsy. Thanks to a hugely successful silent auction with amazing packages donated by our sponsors, $12,300 dollars were raised for Carlos’s family. This figure included an extraordinarily generous “matching funds” contribution donated by events agency, Unbridled.
“A key focus for the SITE Midwest board was to ensure that each and every participant felt welcomed, connected and engaged at all times. Friendliness, openness and no “cliques” have been hallmarks of SITE since its inception. We were determined to model these values at our inaugural event and took steps to ensure it happened by dividing board members around the tables at meals, by being watchful and perceptive to ensure that no-one was on their own and so on. When one of our participants remarked ‘I feel so included’ it was the perfect vindication of our approach” said Brandi Ronk, Director of Sales South Central US at Sol Group and Co-VP of Events and President-Elect, SITE Midwest.
“I’d like to pay special tribute to Paradisus and JSAV who showcased their property and their production expertise in such a creative and innovative way, contributing significantly to the quality of the experience for participants. Likewise, Tropical Incentives showcased the destination through their innovative scavenger hunt and off-site activities. Collectively they demonstrated how motivational experiences do indeed lead to business results” concluded Mary Clare Darland, Director Sourcing at Maritz Travel and President of SITE Midwest.