The Year is Young…

Incentive Talk with SITE Texas — Episode 3

 

As I write this it’s February and 2019 has confirmed that it’s not going anywhere, at least not for the next 11 months. My January was a whirlwind of travel, late nights and early days. In the first 3 weeks of the year I visited 3 countries, had a number of chances to reconnect with industry friends, both old and new, AND record, edit and release the first of what I expect to be many podcasts focused on the industry and people that make is such a great place to be.

Incentive Talk with SITE Texas, Episode 1 was recorded entirely while in Bangkok for the SITE Global Conference. A 2 parter, part 1 offered an in-depth conversation with my good friend and industry partner, Jonathan Richards, with Maui Jim Sunglasses, and part 2 focused on 2019 SITE Texas President, Kelly Kunz Meyer with Brightspot and 2020 Chapter President-elect, Lauren Dunnaway with Infinix Global Meetings & Events. If you haven’t had a chance to listen, I encourage you to do so. It’s on iTunes and Spotify and it’s free.

February 7th we had our first Chapter meeting of the year. What a way to kick things off! We were joined by 2019 SITE International President Philip Eidsvold, Vice President, Strategic Alliances at One10 and SITE Chief Marketing Officer, Padraic Gilligan.

Philip delivered a “State of SITE” message followed by an incredibly interactive panel discussion delivered by Padraic and a panel consisting of Mike May, President of Brightspot and IRF Chairman; Lorraine Mahoney, Marriott Global Account Manager; and Laurie Sprouse, President and Founding Partner of Ultimate Ventures DMC (also founder of SITE Texas, just incase there’s a quiz later). With almost 100 in attendance at Texas Live, the new entertainment venue sitting between Rangers Stadium and ATT Stadium, it was quite a night. It also gave me the chance to interview Philip and Padraic for Episode 2 of the podcast.

Incentive Talk with SITE Texas, Episode 2 was released just days ago and is also a 2 part effort. Part 1 is my interview with Philip and Padraic outlining what has come out of the Bangkok conference and what it means for SITE locally and globally. Part 2 is a great interview with Laurie sharing the story of how Ultimate Venture came to be, and what being part of SITE has meant to her and her career.

All of this and the month is hardly half over!

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Don’t forget to have a listen to the podcast. Both the blog and the podcast will be updated regularly so check back often.

As mentioned earlier, the podcast is available on iTunes and Spotify. You can also listen at: www.sitetexas.libsyn.com.

One Night in Bangkok…

Incentive Talk with SITE Texas — Episode 2

 

Funny how those words crossed my mind as I write this. “One Night in Bangkok” is a song recorded in 1984 that reached #3 on the US pop charts in early summer of 1985. The song compares the city and it’s nightlife to a game of chess. A game of chess is also a good analogy for the incentive travel industry and the moves necessary to deliver a superior program.


Waking up at 3:30 am is starting to become a habit on this trip. I don’t mind it, but it might be nice to sleep a little later. The early start for the day allows me to get some work done and devote some mental energy to how I see my day unfolding. The next few days are shaping up to be a truly immersive experience in terms of the destination, the educational experience, the connection with acquaintances, both old and new, and just generally being overwhelmed by everything that surrounds us here in Bangkok.

Day 1 kicks off with a really great opening session in the afternoon, setting the tone for what’s to come and a free evening consisting of dinner on property spent catching up with a number of industry friends. My Day 2 once again starts early. I’ve been invited to attend a 7 am breakfast meeting dedicated to the continued effort to fine-tune “The Bangkok Manifesto”. It’s exciting to be part of a group of true industry leaders and helping shape our industry. From there the rest of the next 2 days unfolds. It’s a blur of education & general sessions, keynote speakers, 3 incredibly moving TED Talk style presentations by 3 industry icons, all wrapped up and presented with a cherry on top, to bring the best SITE Global Conference I’ve attended over the years, to a close. My early departure tomorrow takes me back to the real world, where I’ll spend most of the next 2 weeks trying to get back on my normal sleep pattern.

And the Adventure Begins

Incentive Talk with SITE Texas — Episode 1

 

Welcome to the Incentive Talk with SITE Texas blog.  I’m Wayne Wallgren, and for now I’m the guy responsible for its content. This includes any cockeyed observations and bad puns that I might write between now and December 31, 2019.  Once you’ve had a look, I hope I’ve given you a reason to come back.

I’m a longtime, and very proud, member of SITE Texas and I’ve just come back on the SITE Texas board after being away for 4 years. As you follow the year, I invite you to make a point of connecting with the chapter, becoming involved and getting to know our members and sponsors. It will be worth your time.

As I write this, it strikes me that just a week ago the joy of Christmas was still holding a prominent place in my collective memory as I prepared with wide- eyed wonder for whatever 2019 would bring. It was New Years day, and my mind was fresh with anticipation. Or at lease as fresh and inspired as a blurry post New Years mind can be.

My travel schedule for the first half of the year was starting to fill and I already had more on my calendar for the 3rd quarter than I imagined not too long ago.

I’m not complaining.

I love to travel.

I love travel for business, for pleasure, for a combination of both. I love traveling with my wife, with friends and with clients. Perhaps the best is doing all three at the same time. I’m lucky in that I get to do more of that combination than I ever imagined. It makes me happy.

I’m going to be coming back to this over the next 12 months and continue to tell the story and what it means to me, to you and to the industry.

Bangkok or Bust!

Hardly one week of the New Year has passed as I settle into my seat on the non-stop DFW to Hong Kong where I will spend three days then make my way to Bangkok for the SITE Global Conference. SITE Texas promises a more than respectable showing regarding turnout. In addition to myself, a past Chapter President, I’ll be joined by Jonathan Richards, also a past Chapter President and just coming off of a 6 year stint on the global board, Kelly Kunz Meyer; Chapter President-Elect, Lauren Dunnaway; Past SITE Global President, Bill Boyd and Catherine Jones, a past board member and speaker at this year’s conference. There are a couple more that are falling victim to my lack of short-term memory, but I think we are representing well.


Landing Hong Kong right on time at 5:15 pm Hong Kong time, almost 17 hours after lift-off in Dallas, we arrive at our hotel, the Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong, a little before 7.  I say “we” as I’m traveling with my good friend and industry partner, Jonathan Richards of Maui Jim, or JR as I’ll refer to as from time to time. An industry friend of Jonathan’s, Eldridge Mayor-Parry, Director of Sales for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, was kind enough to make sure we were upgraded to harbor view and given access to the hotel club lounge. Being JR’s friend is paying dividends!

A few cocktails in the club lounge and it’s off to bed by 10:15 pm.

I won’t bore you with the trivial details of our two days in Hong Kong other than to say it was terrific and I would repeat all of it in an instant.

Suddenly it was “So long Hong Kong”. After less than 48 hours on the ground, we are on our way to the airport and in a few hours, Bangkok.

Three hours on a Cathay Pacific flight later we landed in Bangkok. I had hired the local transportation company recommended for the conference, and they proved to be a wise investment. Almost immediately after stepping off the plane, stands a staff person holding a sign with my name. She quickly escorted us into the terminal and past all the distractions that might have slowed our exit had we stopped at each to see if it was meant for us. Taken straight to the Diplomats immigration line, we cleared immigration quickly and made our way to baggage claim. Our airport minder, who had disappeared when she dropped us at immigration, suddenly reappeared behind us at baggage claim. Once we claimed our bags, she walked us out of the secure area and directly to our transportation. A quick thank you, and she was gone again. Best $45 (including transfer) I’ve spent in a long time.

It was rush hour, so the trip to the Hotel Shangri-La Bangkok took about an hour. With the lights, people and general hubbub, the visuals as we neared the hotel was like being in the movie Blade Runner. Very exotic and a tad overwhelming.

There’s more to the day, but I don’t want to bore you with the minutiae.

The conference starts tomorrow. I’ll start the story fresh then.

WE ARE SITE TEXAS

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