An insider’s journey through 50 years of SITE

An insider’s journey through 50 years of SITE

February 24, 2023

It all began in 1973, when a small team of dedicated travel executives met at what was then the Americana Hotel in New York City, with a purpose: to create an association dedicated to advancing the incentive travel industry. That association launched as the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, and later become the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, or SITE, as it is known today. 

A few months later, Jim Dittman, then a marketing executive and now the founder and chairman of Next Level Performance, became SITE’s first corporate member. This past weekend, Jim joined more than 750 attendees at the SITE Global Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SITE, just blocks from where the first organizing meeting was held.

The Conference launched with a high energy opening session at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem and followed with educational and inspirational speakers over the weekend. The spirit of New York was celebrated with a Gatsby-themed party on Saturday night and concluded with the Sunday night presentation of the prestigious SITE Crystal Awards for the most outstanding programs conducted in 2022.

“In joining with 26 other past presidents, we had an opportunity to remind all members about the definition of incentive travel, namely that it is a modern management tool used to achieve uncommon goals by awarding participants an exceptional travel experience upon the attainment of those goals”, Jim said.  “And the key words are uncommon and exceptional.”

Jim has spoken widely on behalf of the power of incentive travel, starting with his 1974 keynote address at the inaugural SITE Executive Academy (which later became the SITE University) and continuing through his keynote at the Silver Anniversary in 1998 and beyond. He has chaired every SITE committee at one point or another, was a board member for several years, and served as president in 1987.  He contributed many of the tools that are still in use today, including the full-day Incentive Travel 101 seminar and the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) certification. He was also instrumental in creating the SITE Code of Ethics and the Crystal Awards competition. He managed the Society for five years and hired the first full-time, paid staff members in the early 80’s.

“It’s been an honor”, he said.

SITE members are among the leading incentive travel experts, and with almost a half century of leading-edge experience, Next Level Performance is proud to still be associated with SITE.

Learn more about our incentive travel and event services and visit the SITE Global website for more information about future SITE events.