New to the SITE International Board, Ben Sauvage’s father worked - and succeeded - in the travel industry but tried in vain to discourage his son to join ‘the business’.
“He knew how demanding it could get, but of course, as an obedient son, not, my first job after graduating from college was at Holt Paris Service DMC!
After this first experience he quickly moved into international event organization. “I joined my father and had a great opportunity to work with a team that was in charge of coordinating all the presidential press coverage around the world for the president and prime ministers of France early in my career. This was how I discovered not only different countries and cultures, but where I became addicted to the travel industry,” Ben says.
After his stint in France he worked for a U.S. based company that sent him to Cancun, Mexico. After a year in Mexico he was transferred to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic where he was in charge of FIT Clients for the entire island for more than three years.
“During this time, I missed the MICE industry and was looking for a change. That is when I decided to create my own company, Connect DMC, which came to life over 20 years ago. At the beginning my wife and I did everything: driving, airport welcome, planning, trip coordinating, sales... I even painted and decorated our first office!”
The most important lesson I learned is to never give up and today I am proud to say it is now a full destination management company with three offices serving the Dominican Republic and Mexico. We now have more than 60 amazing employees who make this dream an everyday reality,” Ben says.
Ben jointed SITE in 2003. “Being the ‘I’ in MICE was the most important thing to me because our destinations attract lots of Incentive groups.”
SITE, he says, has become a family to him, where he’s made great friends and connected with so many industry leaders. His SITE first mentor, friend and client was Alejandro Verzoub, President of AV- Business & Communication and 2012 SITE Global President.
When Ben is not working he likes to spend as much time as he can with his wife, Cynthia and their two sons Oliver (11) and Matthew (9).
“We love traveling so on every possible occasion we can travel, we do! At home, I surf, skateboard, play golf, fish and play basketball with my boys, and we also go boating. I also love to cook for my family.”
Ben says he has a genuine passion for what he does. “I love creating unique, authentic experiences for our clients. There is no greater accomplishment than to bring a smile on a client’s face once the program ends.”
In 2005, one client, New York-based Princeton Review wanted an extraordinary activity for the group so together they created the first ever swimming and snorkeling with sharks and rays -- by night.
“One of our biggest challenges was to light up the ocean so participants could see the animals and have a good feel and understanding of their surroundings. Each group received a complete safety briefing and their snorkelling gear and followed our professional divers into one of the areas where they could each enjoy a half hour snorkeling with these impressive but inoffensive nurse sharks and rays.
We also treated our 450 participants to a party in a virtual living room on a deserted beach with lounge furniture, tables and high tops for an event with an endless seafood buffet, open bar and live 17-piece band that had them dancing all night.”
Ben is also a passionate proponent and speaker on sustainability and raising awareness about saving the world for future generations.
He prefers black and white movies from the ‘60s to the latest by Quentin Tarantino, loves books from Zola to Amin Maalouf and music from opera to The Avener. He loves food from around the world. If he was hosting a dinner he’d invited Albert Einstein, Vincent VanGogh, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and Jim Morrison.
And the best piece of advice he’s ever gotten? Never give up, stay focus and look straight ahead.