The Incentive for Excellence

An Industry Blog on All Things SITE. Your one stop shop for chapter news, industry events, trends, and tips from the pros.

The Importance of Self-Trust

The Importance of Self-Trust

As a Corporate Meeting Planner, VP of SITE SoCal, and a single mother of one amazing 8-year-old boy who is FULL of energy, I’m constantly running at the speed of light. My time, energy, creativity, and planning skills are always in high demand. This usually means that I put my son and my work first, and myself somewhere way down the list. Given that Forbes rated Event Planning as the 5th most stressful job in the world in 2017, that can quickly become a recipe for disaster. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely in the industry, so I don’t need to tell you; you’re living it too.

At our July SITE SoCal luncheon, we had the pleasure of enjoying 3 informative and dynamic speakers who all touched on the subject of “trust” from very different angles. One speaker hit me more than the others, as she was speaking to the subject of personal trust. Deb Gee of lululemon shared her own story of running herself to the brink of hitting rock bottom early in her own Planning career. She shared how working at a company like lululemon, as well as implementing some new tools into her own personal and professional life, has helped her to become mindful of not allowing herself to go back to that place.

As she guided us through a short meditation practice, the room full of 140 people fell still and silent, eyes closed, maybe for the first time ever. It was an incredible feeling to know that all of these people, wired like I am to “go, go, go”, were sitting mindfully, quietly, together. It was powerful.

After that lunch, I’ve made an effort to reflect on Deb’s message. I’ve spent some time making a commitment to myself to ensure that I can practice self-care, and create trust in myself as a planner, volunteer, and mom. Admittedly, the idea of trusting in myself is a new way of thinking for me that will require some practice. So I’m going to share some of the ways I’ve come up with, and hope that you, as a participant of this industry, might incorporate some self-trust into your own life as well. 

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3 Reasons Why SoCal Continues to Attract Incentive Travel Programs

socal-attracts-incentive-travel-programs SoCal Continues to Attract Incentive Travel Programs

The Greater Los Angeles area stands out as a success story in U.S.-bound tourism in 2017, the last year for which we have conclusive data.

While overall numbers of visitors to the United States declined, within the first seven months of 2017, the USA had 41 million international visitors, a 4% decline from the same period in the previous year, according to the Commerce Department.

Research prepared for the Visit U.S. Coalition by the U.S. Travel Association shows that global travel volume increased 7.9% from 2015 to 2017. But the U.S. slice of that fell from 13.6% to 11.9% in the same period. That is the first drop after more than a decade of consistent growth.

However, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LATCB President and CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. had good news to report.

On January 10th, they announced that Los Angeles welcomed 48.3 million visitors in 2017, setting a new tourism milestone for the seventh consecutive year.

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Celebrating Education with SITE SoCal

education-header Celebrating Education

Celebrate is our word of the year! With our 20 years in existence, our strong, vibrant chapter and our outstandingly successful Holiday Event, we have a lot to be proud of and thankful for when it comes to our SITE SoCal community.

Education is an important element of what membership in SITE provides, and the Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) designation provides a first step on the road to formalizing the on-the-job training that many of us have undertaken, including me. My first on-my-own incentive program for which I was responsible was in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and this was before days of email and mobile phones. I was given two weeks’ notice that I was going and this wasn’t long after I had started with the company. I mostly winged it (the program was a success) but I can’t help thinking that some advance formal education about incentive travel might have been helpful!

Just as a side note…

I joined the industry quite by chance – a friend of a friend asked me to look after their office for them – and the company turned out to be an incentive travel company, specializing in high end international programs. I was hooked. I had found my niche in the work world and the opportunities it has given me have been priceless. I consider myself very fortunate and SITE has been an important component in how my life and work in the industry evolved.

So, back to education…

With the creation of the CIS designation, SITE offers an opportunity for your incentive travel knowledge to be formalized and recognized throughout the industry. The CIS exam is offered at test sites around the world, at private events and shows such as IMEX Frankfurt, as well as online. SITE SoCal decided to set up its own customized CIS test site, taking advantage of the lower online exam rate but also providing an on-site exam preview session. For that we turned to Dana Weaver, CIS, a member of the SITE Board of Trustees and a Past President of SITE Chicago. With Dana on hand to review the material on site with participants, we are combining the convenience of online testing with the opportunity to benefit from his extensive experience within our industry, with SITE, and the testing process.

Our special member-only event is taking place on July 12th at the lovely Ranch at Laguna Beach, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. We are grateful for the ongoing generous support of the Ranch, and in particular Don Chock, CMP, Director of Marketing and Operations and Patty Bell, Associate Director of Sales and Catering for working with us. An invitation to participate was sent out to our membership this week so we do hope you are able to join us and add some initials to your name! If you missed the email, you can find full details here.

For more information, email

CIS Laguna Beach

The CIS is a great foundation step towards taking the recently-available Certified Incentive Travel Professional (CITP) which is the next designation up in the incentive world. The CITP is aimed at mid-to senior-level professionals, both supplier and buyers, working across the niche spectrum of incentive travel. Regardless of where you fit into the incentive world, these designations will help identify you as a bone fide incentive professional. Currently in redevelopment and following on from the CITP, there will be a Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation available for highly-experienced, director-level professionals.

Thank you for being part of our very special community of SITE SoCal professionals – we appreciate each and every one of you. You help make our incentive world a better place!

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6 Ways to Find Fun in Your Sponsorships


We all keep hearing these words; Unique. Experiential. Unconventional. But how do we convey that and find our fun in sponsorships? 

Know Your Story. What are the results you’re looking for?

In today’s busy environment, we are always trying to focus our budget on things that matter while maximizing our ROI to share with leaders, owners, and management. Budgets are continuing to shrink; spending is being looked at more carefully as we move forward in an increasingly busy climate. 

Here’s 6 ways to have fun while sponsoring events:

  1. Clearly define your objectives. Determine which of your current goals or strategies the sponsorship can help achieve, versus creating new ones.
  2. Identify your equity opportunity. Find a space you can actually “own” and define what you can achieve; once you address it, share it.
  3. Value what you bring to the table. Every successful sponsorship also helps the promotional partner. Use the value you bring to the table to negotiate opportunities. Be original. Be creative.
  4. Look for ways to activate the sponsorship across all relevant channels. By understanding all the ways your sponsorship can benefit your organization, you can utilize the sponsorship to create value, drive responses, and grow business. Sharing sponsorship opportunities with your internal team equips your best salespeople.
  5. Capture data and measure results. Clear objectives should drive opportunities for measurement and optimization, which will be the key to quantifying and improving sponsorship ROI moving forward.
  6. Celebrate your sponsorships with new ideas such as: Free Headshots, Social Media, Smart Phone Contests, Cell Phone Charging Stations, Craft Stations, Big Kids Games, Fitness Stations, Professional Services (Massages, Facials), Water Giveaways, Goody Bags for Guests, and so much more!

Stand out from the crowd in 2018 and impress your guests with a unique sponsorship idea. Let’s talk Holiday Event 2018: contact Kathie Giles, VP of Sponsorship at for more info!

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You had me at Brunch…

haute-dokimazo Haute Dokimazo was all the buzz at the last SITE SoCal luncheon.

To celebrate Creativity at the May SITE SoCal Luncheon, we had brunch instead of lunch, and took all fundamentals of meeting planning and threw them out the door.


/ōt/ (but we say hot!)

  1. fashionably elegant or high-class



  1. to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals
  2. to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

Haute Dokimazo was all the buzz at the last SITE SoCal luncheon. After all of us planners got over our anxiety of not being able to actually plan the event, it went great! To be honest, from a Hotel Sales Manager perspective, we were really a dream client.

“How many people and what type of set up do you need for the break outs?”

“We really have no idea. We will just take a corner of the patio and drag chairs from the general session.”

If only it was always that easy!

Was it successful? YAAAAS! Sometimes the only real contact you get at these networking events is by passing the rolls during the speaker’s presentation, and reapplying lipstick together in the bathroom. This event allowed a very intimate setting where you had conversations on topics that were truly meaningful to you. Were we fashionable, elegant, and high class? Of course; this is Southern California! Do I deem it worthy? Absolutely!

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