SITE Young Leader, Emily Karson, CIS is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management currently working for Rosen Hotels & Resorts in their Convention Services department. She served on the Host Committee for the SITE Global Conference in Orlando in 2013 and was the Student Lead for the SITE Student and Young Leader sessions. In 2013, Emily was the recipient of The Gary Sain Memorial Scholarship, presented in memory of the former President and CEO of Visit Orlando who was instrumental in bringing the SITE Global Conference to Orlando.
What/who motivated you to become a member of SITE?
Emily: Suzan Bunn, my meeting management professor at Rosen College, provided me the opportunity to volunteer and be a part of the Global Host Committee for the SITE Global Conference in Orlando in December. Since I wanted to learn more about the Incentive Travel Industry, I contacted her saying I wanted to be a part of it. Once I started attending the Host Committee meetings, and was welcomed with open arms by everyone there, I realized I wanted to be a part of the SITE family.
What do you hope will be the greatest personal and professional benefits of being a SITE member?
Emily: I became a member of SITE when I was twenty years old and, as a young professional, I hope to build my career development and networking circle. So much of this industry is about the relationships you create with others and SITE gives its members so many opportunities to network and help establish lasting relationships. Leveraging these relationships and education, I hope to become a person of influence in my field and within SITE. Another personal benefit that I hope to achieve is to become a mentor to other young people entering the industry. When my time comes to step out of my “young professional” role, I want to be there to help those new to SITE to establish connections and grow within the organization like I have.
What do you feel were the key learning from the SITE CIS course and how do you think the course will help you in your career and professional development?
Emily: The CIS course is a general overview of everything the incentive industry has to offer. We talked about the vital need for promotion and communications, creating a wow factor, return on investments and how to prove the value of incentive travel verses cash rewards. The course helped me understand what non-cash incentives are all about, which will help me sell them in the future. It also helped me better understand and explain to others, like my supervisors, coworkers and clients, the basics of incentive travel. As my career progresses I look forward to the day when I can use this knowledge to help market incentive travel to my clients.
What would you like to share with other prospective students and young professionals about the value of being a member of the SITE community?
Emily: The SITE community is like a huge family. Everyone wants to see you succeed and everyone is more than happy to help you further your goals. A network like this is invaluable - it’s not just about business contacts, its about friendships. Through SITE, I have met so many amazing people from all over the world people that I would never had a chance to meet if I was not a member. SITE cares about its younger members. That is why they have the Young Leaders program, to help build and strengthen relationships with people our age. With the Young Leaders program, SITE is giving our generation the tools to become great leaders in the incentive travel industry.