In Dana Travels, Trends
presenter at SITE Global Conference

SITE CEO Didier Scaillet makes remarks at SITE Global Conference

Dana’s team is always on the go, roving around the globe to cater to clients near and far—which provides the perfect POV for watching what’s happening in the incentive space.

Every day, we see that people, more than ever, are seeking experiential rewards. And they’re willing to pay for them, as budgets continue to rise. That’s fabulous news for the incentive travel industry!

Recently, Dana trekked to Bangkok, Thailand for the specific purpose of exploring incentive travel trends more in depth. Our 48-hour journey included a stop in spectacular Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where we jumped at the chance to tour the truly international destination’s most magnificent attractions.

Nearly 8,700 total miles later, we joined our client, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), for the SITE 2019 Global Conference.

Having attended the previous edition in Rome, Italy, we were unsurprised to discover SITE delivering on their promise of a “bedazzling” experience at this annual hallmark event. Appreciating that renowned Thai hospitality at the host Shangri-La Hotel on the Chao Phraya River banks, we embarked on a remarkable adventure.

Thailand was a purposeful venue selection, as it’s situated in the world’s fastest-growing MICE region. We examined the theme “Incentivizing Diversity and Innovation”—alongside a record total 375 incentive travel professionals from 30 different countries, so we had a pretty good start on the “diversity” part!

elephant statue in hotel lobby

Shangri-La Hotel

Our keynote speaker, artist Phil Hansen, shared “Embrace the Shake,” an unforgettable yet highly entertaining message about “transforming limitations into opportunities.” His presentation established the nature of this year’s event—thoughtful and genuinely captivating.

Encompassing 34 prominent speakers and storytellers, the education program was both innovative and inspiring. In learning sessions, we deliberated on global initiatives like sustainability, the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR), the hot topic of authenticity in travel and the trend of overtourism (which our colleagues, thankfully, agreed was a fad that will pass).

We discussed the critical mission of ECPAT, the worldwide network of organizations working to end the sexual exploitation of children, intensively. SITE renewed its commitment to ECPAT and will continue to educate the industry about this critical issue, in an endeavor to help end human trafficking.

During the conference, we enjoyed a number of other highlights. They included watching SITE President 2018 Annamaria Ruffini transfer leadership by passing a traditional Thai gong to the new SITE President for 2019, Philip Eidsvold, who promptly rang it. We cheered on the extraordinary Crystal Awards winners, who amazed us all with their impressive programs.

Along with a group of fellow global experts, in a series of workshops, the Dana team was also honored to contribute to the creation of The Bangkok Manifesto. Covering the “Nature, Purpose and Direction of Incentive Travel 2019,” it’s already serving as a core reference point for incentive travel professionals this year. This month and next, SITE is inviting industry leaders to submit commentary on each of its ten statements, content which will then be launched at IMEX in Frankfurt this May (we’ll be there too, to witness it all).

boat on Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

Chao Phraya River

And we also took some time to check out our incredible surroundings and meet the people who live there, both at the conference and throughout the city and its environs. We celebrated a showcase of Thai culture, immersed in quintessential experiences such as touring local temples, sampling Bangkok’s famous street food scene and being wowed by dance demonstrations.

On and on we could go… Suffice it to say, we can’t wait to see what the 2020 SITE Global Conference has in store for us (we’ll see you in January, Vancouver).

Want to dive deeper into incentive travel trends?

Read the recent Incentive Travel Industry Index, for which SITE partnered with the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP), conducted in association with J.D. Power. It’s the largest-ever research study on incentive travel, integrating the insight of 1,016 senior-level respondents from 80+ countries.

Reaffirming our own and our various clients’ observations, we quote the Index: “Incentive travel is in rude health.” Meaning, it’s continuing to grow and prosper. Here are the study’s five key takeaways:

  1. Budgets in 2018 were up – 54% of buyers report an increase.
  2. There are more qualifiers than ever – 65% of buyers are increasing them.
  3. Incentives as a builder of workplace culture ranked highly in objectives – sales and profitability still #1, of course.
  4. The use of all-inclusive destinations has increased – in part, signifying that while budgets rise, buyers are also taking steps to reduce costs.
  5. “Wellness is the new golf” – 86% of buyers called out wellness when asked about inclusions.

Read more, and download the full study and infographic >

Motivated to move on these incentive travel trends?

Email Lynn Kaniper, at—or call 609.466.9187, ext. 117.

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