The SITE Foundation annually awards the David Riddell Memorial Scholarship to a deserving recipient in honor of the late David Riddell of Marriott Corporation to honor his commitment to education. This year’s scholarship was awarded to Michael Dalton, Groups & Incentives Manager at Moloney & Kelley Travel in Dublin, Ireland. Michael is a board member for the SITE Ireland chapter and currently serves on the SITE Young Leaders committee. In this interview, Michael shares what he believes are the personal and professional benefits of being a member of SITE, specifcially SITE Young Leaders.
SITE: What is your current role and responsibilities at Moloney & Kelly Travel?
Michael: I was very recently promoted to Director of Sales for Moloney & Kelly Travel, one of Ireland’s oldest and most respected DMCs. It is a very exciting and broad role and I love what I do. I look after planning for all of our sales activities throughout the year, preparing proposals, conducting site visits, hosting familiarisation trips of Ireland, working on contracting and also operating incentive programs. I’ve gained so much experience and look forward to some exciting years ahead.
SITE: What is your educational and professional background and why did you choose the meetings and events industry as a profession?
Michael: I have two degrees from Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) in Ireland, a Degree in Business with Event Management and an Honours Degree in Event, Hospitality and Tourism Management. I also obtained the SITE Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) designation earlier this year.
When I was deciding on what degree to pursue after school, I didn’t want to do a standard business degree and the course in DKIT looked different and very interesting. I must say the lecturers there are all amazing and encouraged everyone to get as much practical experience as possible during their studies. I took their advice and once I got a taste of the events industry, I was hooked!
I spent just under a year working with a fantastic company called Corporate Events and Meetings in Atlanta, Georgia USA gaining experience working on some very creative events. After that I worked with the world’s largest leisure operator, TUI, across the Mediterranean gaining resort operations experience. As part of this role I coordinated transport for a huge number of arrivals to resorts in Cyprus, Crete and Gran Canaria. As part of a resort team, I learned how to deal with any situation and deliver exceptional service.
I then returned to Ireland and through a friend I was introduced a destination management company. The role was perfect for me and is an ideal mix of all the elements of my experience up to that point that I really loved. At Moloney & Kelly we create some unbelievable experiences for our clients and there’s nothing more rewarding than getting to share the beauty of the place I grew up in with people from all over the world. It’s such a rewarding and enjoyable industry and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
SITE: What are your career aspirations?
Michael: I’m very passionate about Sales and I am a real people person. I enjoy getting to meet new clients and deliver exceptional experiences for them across Ireland. If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago, it would be to become a Director of Sales, which I’ve just been promoted to. I suppose now my aspiration would be to grow the company, the team and enhance the Moloney & Kelly brand.
SITE: What or who motivated you to join SITE?
Michael: When I began working for a DMC in Ireland, I didn’t know many of the local trade people in Ireland and the industry is so relationship driven. I quickly learned that SITE was the place to get to know everyone in the incentive travel business. Aoife Delaney, a former work colleague of mine and current SITE VP of Finance, encouraged me to get involved in SITE Young Leaders providing me the opportunity to connect with like minded people in similar stages of their career path from across the world.
SITE: What do you feel are the most valuable benefits of being a member of SITE, specifically Site Young Leaders?
Michael: It really is the people and connections that you make. It gives you such a head start and can open so many doors for you. Since joining SITE, I’ve had so many fantastic experiences and opportunities. This year I volunteered as a SITE Crystal Awards judge and got to read about some of the most remarkable programs delivered across the globe over the last year.
I was so honoured and grateful to be the recipient of this year’s David Riddell Memorial Scholarship which afforded me the opportunity to attend the SITE Global Conference in Rotterdam. I got to meet so many interesting people during the conference and came back not just with some new business contacts, but also a couple of new friends.
As part of the SITE Young Leaders Committee I get to work with people from all areas of the industry across the globe. It is such a fun and enthusiastic bunch of people on the committee. We planned a number of educational events throughout 2014 including the SITE Young Leaders Conference, which was held in Las Vegas prior to IMEX America. The content was incredible and the speakers were all so engaging, offering very valuable insights. We also did several Facebook Interviews throughout the year and these were my personal favourites. We got to interview well known personalities and industry heavyweights on our own turf, Social Media. All of the interviews are very interactive and engaging. For any one who hasn’t seen them, join the SITE Young Leaders group on Facebook to see them.
I’ve also recently joined the board of SITE Ireland Chapter and we just finished building our first ever Chapter Website. Check out all of our hard work at www.siteireland.net. As part of the SITE Ireland Board, I have had the pleasure of helping out in planning our Annual Christmas Lunch which we have over 100 people attending this year on 12 December. I’m also planning our New Year Networking event which is going to be really fun.All of these opportunities are open to members and I would really encourage others to try them out. My experiences with SITE since I became a member have been fulfilling and rewarding both personally and professionally.