2014 SITE Crystal Award Recipient

Exceptional Motivational Travel Program - Best in Class: Europe

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PR Incentives DMC in Italy

Catania/Rome, Italy

“YPO Intercontinental Chapter, Sicily 2013”

Program Overview

Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) is a global network of business leaders that aims to unite its members by creating networks to share knowledge and experiences on demand. The goal of the Intercontinental Chapter program held in Sicily in September 2013 was to create powerful networking opportunities to inspire attendees to become better leaders in their business, community and beyond. 84 YPO members and their partners arrived in Sicily to spend 5 unforgettable days together in an adventure where they enjoyed incredible sights, immersed in challenging nature walks that included trekking the Alcantara River and an excursion to Mount Etna. While participating on challenging yet educational and fun teambuilding activities, attendees also learned about Sicily’s rich history and culture and were inspired by their surroundings The trip transformed the delegates from determined individuals to team players that support each other to overcome challenges as a group.

Effectiveness and Results 

The program was deemed very formative by the delegates, with 4 in-depth sessions exploring current topics that increased their knowledge in terms of culture, tradition, history and economics. Activities such as river trekking up the Alcantara river, where delegates had to stay close to each other, and be ready to help each other through the challenging rocks and strong currents, or trekking 2000 meters up Mount Etna with determination and solidarity transformed the group into a unified team, with the phrase “United we stand, divided we fall” as the day’s lesson. The group learned to improve their communication and networking skills in the most unique way – by participating in a traditional Sicilian dance lesson, whPR Incentives1.jpgere they had to hold hands, learn the dance steps carefully and not break the rhythm of others, an activity that showed how one person’s actions always resonate with their team. All the activities were designed to help YPO meet their goal of unifying a group of diverse people, in a motivational experience that promoted mutual trust, a strong sense of group identity, and gave them the skills to communicate more effectively. Delegates reported having experienced the right balance of culture, education, and fun, and learned team-building skills that they will take back home and implement.

The Creative Approach

Creativity, innovation, and attention to detail were demonstrated throughout the entire program. Every activity fit with the identity of the destination, and every detail was customized. Each day’s itinerary was designed with an innovative approach, blending PR Incentive DMC’s enthusiasm and expertise with YPO’s objectives. In such a cultural melting pot, right in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, it was easy to identify resources and fascinating activities to give guests the best experience possible. Four extraordinary formative sessions, together with cultural excursions inspired attendees to harness their creativity. The program began inside the Ancient Greek Theatre in Taormina, followed by a welcome dinner in the wonderful panoramic terrace of the Grand Hotel Timeo overlooking the Bay and the smoking volcano Etna. Sicily’s sights were represented through “Fashion Frames” - lava transformed into PR Incentives2.jpgdresses; coral, stones, lace and embroidery as symbols of Sicily traditions, along with ceramics and mosaics represented in beautiful tops by the haute couture designer Marella Ferrera. The second day started with the challenging Alcantara river trek and breakfast followed by an hour-long volcano trek. As a reward to the physically challenging morning, an open air rustic buffet lunch and wine tasting was hosted in a prestigious local wine cellar: a tribute to the senses among perfumes, food and extraordinary wines. 

The day ended in the beautiful Villa where Francis Ford Coppola shot several scenes of the Godfather trilogy. The third day, the group took 5 helicopter shuttles, from Greek Sicily to the Arab one on the Western side. Landing in a picturesque medieval village in the Madonie National Park, the town’s Mayor welcomed the group and gave them the keys to the village followed by a wonderful lunch served in an imperial style table set in the main road, while  “waiters” sang opera and  old ladies embroidered at the edge of the road road. After lunch, 40 vintage cars took the group to explore the routes of the "Targa Florio". The evening began with a typical Sicilian feast including traditional food and folk dancing in the authentic fish market and the night was topped off with an exclusive visit to the Catacombs! The following day started with Holy Mass in the Palatine Chapel at the Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo, Hall of Sicilian Parliament, followed by a private choral concert; and a meeting & final education by Prof. Romano Prodi, former Italian Prime Minister and economist. A formal lunch at the Military Southern Army Headquarter was followed by a visit to the Patron Saint of Palermo in a cave 1500 meters above sea level, topped off by “private shopping” at the hotel where delegates had local fashion, jewelry and artistic ceramics to choose from. The final night dinner was held in a noble Palace where they were welcomed by “the white angel” and hosted by the family among old treasures, ancient traditions and mystery!

Program Execution

PR Incentives DMC took on the challenge of an intense program full of daily activities that required punctuality and flexibility, to inspire YPO’s delegates who are accustomed to a demanding routine, while balancing educational with recreational activities. There were some additional challenges that were taken care of behind the scenes so flawlessly that the delegates’ experience was not disturbed. Four consecutive days of rain before the program threatened to bring the scheduled breakfast on the river banks to an indoor venue, but resourceful PR Incentives DMC built a little wooden terrace on the river banks in less than three days so that the breakfast could be arranged outdoors as scheduled. The trekking of the Etna Volcano happened on a nature trail in an area accessible only by foot, where no PR Incentives3.jpgvehicles or even helicopters could reach the area. Always putting delegates’ safety first, the group was escorted by 10 forest guards and a couple of doctors who, in case of emergency, would be able to help with first aid. During the helicopter shuttle transfer from the east side to the west side, one of the helicopters had a technical problem and no additional helicopters were available.  Having previously calculated the timing, taking in consideration all possible contingencies, all the guests arrived at destination five minutes early! The driving experience following the famous “Targa Florio” path was also challenging as the beautiful vintage cars have old engines, clutches and no automatic systems, PR Incentives DMC were prepared with mechanics and luxury mini coach buses following the caravan ready to assist. For the delegates’ convenience, and real-time alerts should there be any sudden change in itinerary or locations, a dedicated App for smart phones was created. However, it was not used as the program was executed flawlessly and everything went according to plan!

Environmental and Social Responsibility Practices 

The program addressed the common visitors’ perception that Sicily is associated to the mafia in a session that explained what organized crime is and how Sicily, and Italy, are fighting against it. Judge Giovanni Falcone, former Colonel of ROS - special forces of the Carabinieri specialized in investigations against the Mafia, drug-trafficking and international terrorism, led the session. The attendees appreciated the informative session that touched on the human element of the fight against organized crime. The session ended with former Italian Prime Minister, Professor and founder of the larger Italian institute for Economics Studies, Romano Prodi who gave an exclusive lesson about Mediterranean politics & economy in a private room of the Government Palace, increasing delegates’ awareness of the area’s socioeconomic situation.