In the summer of 2015, SITE launched the SITE Midwest USA chapter with the mission of providing local and regional support to a five-state geographic area previously unrepresented by other chapters. The five states – Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio – represent a longstanding and significant presence in the incentive travel industry with the existence of many corporate, third party and suppliers located in the region.
Join the SITE Midwest USA chapter for their Spring Education & Networking Event, 28 April at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, MO. Greg Bogue, Vice-President of Experiential Design at Maritz will be the keynote speaker offering "12 Steps to a Successful Incentive Program" followed by a panel discussion led by industry professionals. SITE CEO, Kevin Hinton, will conclude the session sharing insights from the SITE Index Survey. Click here to register.
SITE Midwest USA chapter president, Stan Hershenow, is Regional Director of Group Sales, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide – Hawaii Region. During his more than 25-year career in the industry, he has held global, regional, and property positions in group and incentive sales with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide; as well as property and leadership positions with Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and La Quinta Resort & Club. For the past two years Stan served as Co-chair for the SITE Classic and in 2015 was honored as SITE Member of the Year in recognition of his contributions to the SITE community.
Serving as Chapter President is a volunteer position and requires a significant time commitment. What motivated you to assume a SITE chapter leader position?
Stan: I think it starts with a genuine interest in this business and a belief that we can make a difference through our involvement. Knowledge and relationships are critical to success in the incentive travel segment. Through my involvement with SITE Classic the past two years I saw firsthand the power of bringing people together. Chapters allow you to do that on a much more local, intimate level.
In 2015, the chapter had a goal of 50 members and came very close to achieving that goal. What is the chapter's goal for 2016?
Stan: When you consider that we really didn’t even get things off the ground until midway through 2015, we are thrilled with the initial interest and the future potential. The five states that make up the Midwest USA Chapter are home to many significant companies that offer incentive travel solutions to their customers, not to mention many companies that use incentive travel to drive business results. These companies attract key vendors (hotels, DMCs, airlines, cruise lines, etc.) to our region. For this reason, we have a great opportunity to bring people together through events and deliver educational content that makes us all better at what we do. Our goal in 2016 is to double our membership. To do this, we need to create engagement throughout our broad region and we hope to do that through a variety of offerings, both in person and virtually.
With such a large region covering five states, what activities/events does the chapter have planned this year to engage and recruit current/prospective members across the region?
Stan: It’s an interesting dynamic. Our broad region is actually one of our strengths but also one of our biggest challenges. We are focused on delivering value to our membership, regardless of where they live. To do this, more than other chapters perhaps, we need to be creative in how we engage with our member base. We plan to tap into technology to close that gap. We plan to hold local events in three different states in 2016 and for those that can’t attend our events in person, we’ll offer a few webinars throughout the year. Additionally, we plan to record any and all education offerings and make it available online through our website. Finally, we will once again be holding a networking event on the first day of IMEX America in Las Vegas. We see this as a great opportunity to take advantage of many of members being in one location at the same time.
When recruiting new members, what do you tell them are the greatest professional and personal benefits of being a member of SITE?
Stan: I think it depends on what you are looking for. If you are new to the business, SITE can provide immediate access to trusted suppliers or credible customers through a variety of networking opportunities. Like the world itself, our industry is ever changing. SITE offers resources to help you stay informed and relevant. SITE is a great platform for career development and advancement on a global scale. Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it. The benefits are there. As leaders, it is our responsibility to create the opportunities for members to tap into the organization so they experience the benefits.