SITE Great Britain President, Fiona McGrory, is Business Development Director, US and Canadian MICE, Intercontinental London Park Lane. A member since 2007, she has served in various capacities on the chapter’s board. After studying Travel and Tourism in college, Fiona started her career in the industry gaining invaluable experience working the front desk and in convention services at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. This is when she first became aware of, and intrigued with, the incentive travel industry.
SITE: Being a Chapter Leader is a volunteer position and requires a significant time commitment. What/who motivated you to assume a Chapter Leader position?
Fiona: From both a personal and professional level, my experience with SITE has been amazing! I first learned about SITE from Wendy Moffatt and Paul Miller of Spectra and Nicola Chater, Global Marketing Solutions, they were the people that encouraged me to join the board in 2007. It was when I attended a presentation by Stephen Powell, Sr. Vice-President Worldwide Sales for IHG that I really understood the full power and reach that SITE has and vowed to work for him one day ! I served as the chapter secretary for two years and then temporarily left the industry for the birth of my second child. When I decided to return to work, Erica Keogan, Reed and Fiona Chappell, Melbourne Convention Bureau convinced me to rejoin SITE. SITE Great Britain immediate past president, Barbara Jamison of London & Partners, nominated me for 2015 chapter president. Daniel Ayers, Sr. Sales Manager, Dorchester Collection, the chapter’s president- elect and I made a pact: I would do one year with his support and he would do one year with mine and we would see where we end up!
My boss, Michael Green, Area Director of Sales and Marketing, who was on the board of SITE in 2009, recognizes the value SITE provides to the MICE industry and is a great supporter of my involvement in the association.
SITE: When recruiting new members, what do you tell them are the greatest personal and professional benefits of being a member of SITE?
Fiona: Within the UK there are a lot of associations targeting the meetings and events industry but only SITE is focused on the incentive travel sector. SITE provides excellent research and education on incentive travel trends and best practices. I think the greatest value of being a member of SITE are the connections with members all over the world; trusted advisors that are always willing to help you develop personally and professionally in your job.
Great Britain has many hotels, DMCs and other industry disciplines and, currently, the majority of our members are from the supply side. We are in discussions with the Event Marketing Association, whose membership is predominantly corporate buyers and Martin Lewis of C&IT magazine, about holding more events in which we hope will encourage more buyers to become SITE members.
SITE: What are some of the educational activities and events your chapter is doing in 2015 to engage current and prospective members?
Fiona: We are fortunate to have an amazing group of industry professionals on our board: Barbara Jamison, Daniel Ayers, Naomi Hall (Hyatt Hotels), Christina Barojanni (Morgans Hotel Group), Alan Ramirez (Spectra DMC) and Marc Rodgers (Doyle Collection). This year the board is concentrating on providing quality education and networking for our members. In May we hosted a presentation “The Changing Trends of Incentive and Motivational Events”, a panel discussion of industry leaders facilitated by SITE Foundation Trustee, Martin Lewis, Managing Director, CAT Publications. On 12 July, members will be participating in the British 10K in London to aid the Brain Tumor Research Campaign and MIMN. We are especially excited about our education event on 10 September featuring Jonathan Bradshaw, Meetology® who will speak on “The Secret Science Behind Connecting with Others”. The year will conclude with the chapter’s Christmas lunch hosted by Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.
Our SITE Young Leaders group, under the leadership of Naomi Hall, is growing and we are attracting more young professionals to the chapter. The group is hosting many creative “socials” and “power breakfasts” at leading hotels and venues throughout the year to engage and recruit young leaders. A recent event attracted 14 prospective members!
SITE: What is the current state of the MICE industry in the UK?
Fiona: Inbound travel business to the UK is booming and we are very busy fielding inquiries for events into 2018/2020. In addition to business from the US and Canadian markets, we are seeing a lot of interest for some amazing incentives from planners in Asia.
In March, the UK Department of Culture Media and Sport published its events blueprint, which consists of a new, Events Industry Council to help represent the sector within government; a greater involvement for events within the Britain is Great campaign and initiatives to attract more business events to the UK.
With the recent election, a more conservative government could mean potential cuts in spending which could inevitably affect the UK events industry. As MICE professionals, it is important for us to continue to advocate for our industry and demonstrate how it can be a driver to both business growth and international travel.