By Chantel Elloway | Euro Canada News
Vancouver has consecutively been ranked the highest for its quality of life and being the most livable city in North America, but what truly sets it apart? It’s unbeatable location that presents limitless opportunities. What opportunities motivate people more than money? Gas & Groceries? Utilitarian Merchandise? Luxury Merchandise? It’s experiences and incentive travel.
That is exactly why Vancouver recently hosted a record-breaking event with 640 incentive travel professionals from 42 countries who came together for the Society for Incentive & Travel Excellence (SITE) Global Conference. The conference was held at the JW Parq & Douglas Autograph Collection in Vancouver, British Columbia from January 24-27, 2020 along with other hotels including the Sheraton Wall Centre, Westin Bayshore, Shangri-La and Fairmont Pacific Rim who hosted various events.
SITE – the only Business Events association dedicated exclusively to the global incentive travel industry who work in corporations, agencies, airlines, cruise companies and across the entire destination supply chain, provided education on leading-edge content, innovative technology, small business lessons, sustainability in the event industry, how hospitality supports artists as well as social housing and so much more.
Limitless –was the theme of this year’s conference – defined by powerful demonstrations of the indomitable human spirit, connection, and innovative knowledge – with 40 distinct educational sessions across four different stages.
With a focus on career building sessions such as Designing and Innovating Incentive Travel Programs, 7 Deadly Sins of a Proposal and the emphasis on dreaming big, disrupting the tourism industry, breaking tradition and aspiring for sustainable solutions – the SITE conference provided a haven of possibilities to connect, learn, discover and help shape tourism. With thought-provoking conversations, prominent keynotes and speakers, cultural and creative immersions, certification opportunities, evening events and celebrations, award ceremonies and a tour of murals of the city and a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, among other tours – the information received on incentive travel was truly the incentive.
Keynotes included a talk by Joost Rigter, who became blind in his 20s. He had the entire audience place blindfolds to experience life out of their comfort zone. New York Times best-selling author Ben Nemtin, challenged everyone with the questions (and also the title of his book), “What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?” In an evolving world where society is moving faster than businesses and there is an abundance of choices, erosion of loyalty, speed of innovation, shifting frames of reference, hypercompetition, and a hyper expectation from travelers to shift their expectations through disruption – the essence of being limitless was that age is only a mindset and tech-enabled business models are soaring. Organizations who had strong business models were recognized for their innovations at The Crystal Awards (sponsored by IME Group), which is considered the highest honor in the incentive travel industry.
With the ongoing frantic pace of life, corporate professionals continue to seek ways to alleviate stress and rejuvenate their minds, bodies and spirits. Helping employees take flight is a great way to help them stay grounded and build loyalty. The one-fits-all approach has lost its influence in the travel industry. Several of the tech trends discussed at the conference were engagement technology, augmented reality, data driven experiences, holographic effects, travel communities, wearables, blockchain technology, and biometric data that will further enhance the customer experience in planning leisure as well as bleisure trips.
Another key focus discussed at the conference was on overall health and mental well-being, with the availability for conference attendees to be able to take mental health breaks at the Restoration Lounge sponsored by InHouse Physicians and participate in 5k runs, yoga and SoulCycle classes.
Sustainability is the new luxury was a key take away for many at the conference. Educational seminars challenged attendees to question how they and their organizations can create a more positive social and environmental impact, invest in social programs, reduce carbon emissions, to question where their produce is coming from and to source locally, to strive for more ethical practices, to limit single-use items and minimize plastic use as well as evolve the narrative around climate change by applying sustainable initiatives within hotels, restaurants and our communities, responsibly.
The SITE Global Conference truly proved to be a vision of limitless opportunities through the beauty of incentive travel.