An electrical engineer who loves 19th century British author Jane Austen. It’s almost an extended oxymoron, but this describes Rebecca Wright, SITE's newly appointed Head of Chapter Engagement.
Rebecca’s entry into the brave new world of Incentive Travel came mid-career following a spell working in electrical engineering, her field of study. “Once I realized that my passion was not in that discipline, I gradually made my way to the hospitality industry and found my home. I became passionate about the enormous benefits of travel and quickly became an advocate for the use of travel experiences as a motivator for improved business results.”
Her first foray into incentive travel was approximately 10 years ago while working for a high-end leisure travel company. “I created tailored programs with activities that participants could not experience on their own. As we developed itineraries we asked ourselves, ‘What did we do to make the participants feel special on this day?’. It was here that I cultivated a passion for travel and an appreciation for the similarities and differences of cultures other than my own.”
Rebecca calls out Bich-Lien Kaldahl, formerly of United Airlines, as the key personality who shaped her relationship with SITE. “Bich-Lien encouraged me to get more involved as a board member for SITE Chicago. She provided not only sage advice for resurrecting the Chicago chapter, but also suggestions on how I could personally impact our chapter’s success. She has been my biggest cheerleader and someone I can always rely on for unbiased feedback.”
For relaxation, Rebecca likes to connect with nature. “When I’m not working my day job, I like to totally disconnect and get back to nature by spending time outside relaxing and recharging in my wooded back yard. My husband and I are working to create a few manicured areas within the wildness of the woods and can often be found burning brush piles or dreaming about what our ultimate landscape vision will be.”
Rebecca believes passionately in the transformative power of travel experiences. When asked about her most memorable incentive trip created for a client, she quotes the French writer, Marcel Proust. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
She is particularly proud when she’s able to connect participants to a destination in such a way that they discover something that profoundly affects and maybe even permanently transforms them. "This could stem from discovery of a foreign culture, trying a new activity, or even quiet time away from the usual routine.”
Rebecca played a seminal role in the renaissance of SITE Chicago, one of our association’s legacy chapters that had fallen on hard times. “I am incredibly proud to have played a part in SITE Chicago’s rise over the past 4 years. I was fortunate to be involved as a board member when the chapter started with fresh leadership in 2014. During my tenure as chapter president in 2017, we were awarded Chapter of the Year, a culmination of the passion and dedication of the chapter leadership to make SITE Chicago great again.”
Rebecca has been involved in other industry associations too, but finds something special and unique at SITE. “SITE is filled with talented professionals all dedicated to our industry’s success. It’s a very welcoming organization where business colleagues quickly become friends. What I learn daily from my SITE associates makes me a better person and a better partner to my clients.”
Her ideal dinner party is decidedly family with interest provided by guest of honor, Jane Austen, her favorite author. “My ideal dinner party would be: my mom (who passed away 22 years ago), my dad and my sister (so we can all be together as a family again), my husband (who never met my mother) and special guest Jane Austen (my favorite author, who I’d love to meet in person).
And what about the best piece of advice she ever received? “I try to emulate the best qualities from the many who I admire. Kindness and gratitude are at the top of those qualities, as are a passion for excellence and recognition of those around you who lift you up and help you achieve goals.”