After an international career of 35 years abroad, Tasso Pappas, CITE, CIS, returned to his homeland in Greece. Since January 2013, he has held the position of VP International Business Development for GNOMON PERFORMANCE, an Incentive, Communication and Destination Management Company in Athens, Greece. He also offers his services as a consultant, industry speaker, and trainer, for the Incentives & Meetings Industry. A native of Athens, Greece, and resident of Belgium since 1970, Tasso Pappas has accumulated over 35 years of international experience in tourism and the meetings, incentive and convention business, worldwide.
Tasso is a graduate of the High Commercial School of Athens and the IATA Professional Training Program on ticketing & tariffs. Further, he has attended eight Site universities and numerous Site, MPI & industry seminars. Tasso is one of the few Certified Incentive Travel Executives (CITE) in the world, and speaks and writes Greek, English and French.
Participate and share is the name of the game.
Often Site and non-Site members ask me “What do you gain by being a Site member?” Usually I reply, “professionalism, education, industry recognition, self-confidence”, and many other attributes which I would not have without being an active member of Site. However, at the occasion of Site’s 40th anniversary I think it is worth sharing a retrospective of my involvement with Site for the benefit of the new or prospective members.
In 1980, I heard about a new type of business in the USA called “Incentive Travel.” I decided that I should try to pursue some of this business for the Belgium company I was working for. I had no idea what incentive travel was other than the meaning of the word and that it was a profitable business in travel and tourism. I participated at my first ITME show in 1981 and had the chance to meet Bob Guerriero, CITE of Journeymasters who wanted to operate an incentive program in Belgium. I could never imagine how much that incentive program would change my professional life.
After implementing one of the most successful incentive programs I ever operated, Bob Guerriero spoke to me about Site and proposed to sponsor my membership. I understood that Site was a society of distinguished incentive travel professionals and in 1982 I took the opportunity to become a member. At that time Site had about 150-200 members and I was the only member in Belgium.
For my eight first years as a Site member, I was not very active. I was happy with my exclusive membership and participated in a couple of International Conferences but that was all. Things changed under the presidency of Jane Schuldt (1991) and Patrick Delaney (1992) when the foundation of global Site Chapters was established. In 1993 the Benelux Chapter was formed which was the beginning of my active involvement with Site. It was the moment that many of the international members understood, if we wanted to make changes at Site, we should get involved, participate and share.
I will never forget the advice of the first Benelux president Jan Bart Dorlas when I succeeded him in 1993, “Do not miss the opportunity to participate at the International Board meetings when you can. All chapter presidents are guests and this is the best way to make the voice of the chapter heard.” I did this for three years until my election to the Site Board of Directors in 1995.
Until that time I was only seeing my point of view and interests as a DMC. As a board member I understood that Site was not only an association of individuals, but also a collective effort of a community with of a multitude of interests and disciplines. It was important to promote the essence of incentive travel and its benefits for corporations and all concerned planners or suppliers. We had to raise the quality level through education across the globe, promote the professionalism of our members and prepare for the next generation of motivational experiences through high levels of recognition. We had to put aside the “me” and think, globally, as “we.” We had to ignore small, trivial and personal problems and work as a team for the benefit of not only the members but the industry as a whole.
The Board members often felt like evangelists preaching to non-believers, but we continued making Site more global by adding representatives from all the five continents to the board. We opened new chapters every year, developed membership in many countries, and created valuable educational seminars and universities for all levels of the industry.
We experienced some hard times, but judging from the results, we persevered and in the late 90’s Site grew to over the 2000 members worldwide. I left the board in 2001, and by that time Site had become a religion for me. I continued working with Site up to today working on numerous committees and tasks forces, too many to be enumerated.
So what did I gain from being a Site member for 32 years? Everything I have mentioned and even more. I gained the esteem of hundreds of Site members and made hundreds of friends in all industry disciplines. I made contact with many nationalities, widened my horizons and learned so much about doing business with different cultures. I also gained new business because, when you are recognized in the industry and have the education that Site offers, business comes along.
The message I want to pass on to Site members is: get involved in Site; personally participate in the Site community, its events and educational programs. Share your knowledge with others. Persevere at these principals and don’t be an inactive member. Only then will you realize ROI.
Personally, I have many reasons to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Site and feel proud to have contributed to the success of Site and our industry. Ten years from now, I look forward to actively participating at Site’s 50th anniversary.
Tasso Pappas, CITE, CIS, Site President 2000