The David Riddell Memorial Scholarship, created in memory of SITE Past President David Riddell, provides an opportunity for worthy individuals to participate in SITE educational programs. This year the SITE Foundation Board of Trustees selected four scholarship recipients based on financial need, nomination from a SITE Chapter leader and their contributions to SITE as David envisioned. The scholarship will fund costs to attend the SITE + MPI Global Forum in January. Ashley Himebaugh, Account Manager with the FIRE Light Group, Madison Wisconsin, USA. was one of the scholarship recipients. Here is an excerpt from her winning essay.
Being a member of SITE is such an important part of my professional development. Since joining 3 years ago, I have had the opportunity to meet leaders from all over the world who have inspired me to continue working in the industry and be the best that I can be. As a member of SITE Young Leaders, we are developing an amazing community of next generation of SITE leaders that will ensure that the organization continues to thrive and grow into the future.
Three years ago, almost to the day, I sat preparing for an interview at what is now my current employer - FIRE Light Group. What started as a simple online search of my company’s page turned into a mind blowing and eye-opening experience into the incentive travel industry. I have learned that incentive travel is not only an extremely effective tool at motivating employees, but also a practice that can be a key to the success of any business. Furthermore, the use of incentive travel as a motivational tool is now widespread internationally and its role is expected to increase in importance in the future.
The incentive travel industry is a great indicator for how the global economy is functioning. Businesses start spending money on recognition programs when they feel good about the direction of the market. They understand that their employees have more options when the economy improves, and retaining their talent requires a commitment to spending money on engagement and incentive programs. This continuous increase in employee investment will create great opportunities for our industry to continue developing unique programs for our clients.
In good times or bad, reward and recognition programs help excite and engage employees who are responsible for achieving organizational performance. Although only part of the total mix, incentive travel is unlike any other reward and recognition program. Travel creates memorable experiences that other programs cannot achieve. This is where the passion of the professionals in the incentive industry comes into play. Nothing brings me more joy than at the end of a program as seeing the happiness of the attendees, to see them not only enjoy the trip, but be recognized and rewarded for excelling at their job. This is what inspires me to continue to excel to create unique and memorable experiences for my clients.
In addition to being highly rewarding, this industry can also be taxing. It often includes extremely long hours and high-stress situations. To achieve sustained success takes individuals who truly love their jobs and strive to go above and beyond for their clients. Without a network of support, such as SITE, to connect these individuals together, it would also be an extremely lonely industry.
When I joined this industry, I was warned of the high burnout. I faced situations where I felt lost and didn’t know where to turn. Then I found SITE and the SITE Young Leaders program and was connected to a group of the most amazing and inspiring individuals. It was invaluable to be able to talk to other people in the industry, who were experiencing the same challenges.
SITE beings together the brightest minds in the world of incentive travel and the SITE + MPI Global Forum provides an opportunity to come together and share experiences, knowledge and the passion that each member brings to the table. Being a member of SITE is being part of a worldwide family of over two thousand people. It is my “professional home” – where the world of incentive travel comes together to achieve greatness – and an organization that has had a very positive influence on my career.