News has just arrived of the death, while holidaying in Peru, of Carolyn Dow, SITE past president (2001), and director of SITE Europe (2006 – 2009). Only last week she posted on social media about this trip, many of us celebrating with her when her luggage that was lost en route, was found.
A master’s graduate in Swedish Studies from the University of Aberdeen, Carolyn spent many years working in the DMO sector, serving for over a decade as Head of Sales and Marketing at the Scottish Convention Bureau.
She played a seminal role in showcasing Scotland as an incentive-ready destination to the global incentive travel community before establishing her own successful consultancy business in 2004, offering destination marketing advice for the meetings and incentives industry.
But SITE was the leit motiv and, arguably, the defining passion of Carolyn’s career, her membership and leadership in the association spanning almost 40 years. Among many leadership roles, she chaired SITE’s European University in Istanbul in 1997, served as SITE’s Global President in 2001 and, from 2006 until 2009, was SITE’s European Director at a time of great regional growth and expansion for the association.
Carolyn was brilliant, highly principled, generous and kind. She truly embodied the unique simpatico of SITE and modelled it by her own behaviour. As a past president, she could always be relied upon to provide wise, discrete and carefully considered advice on association matters. She attended SITE events unselfishly, to support, uplift and augment proceedings in that unobtrusive, quiet but thoroughly effective way.
Annamaria Ruffini, Past President of SITE (2018) summarises many of these traits: “I met Carolyn in 1996 and from that moment she was a point of reference and a mentor. We came a long way together from SITE University in 1998 to the SITE EMEA Forum in Florence and then Berlin, and finally the Global Conference in Rome. I have always sought her advice on issues of ethics and best practices. I knew her thinking was direct, sincere and never with an ulterior motive. For many years she was the face of SITE in Europe at the tradeshow booths, always available and smiling. Carolyn was always there, for me, for us, she was SITE family”.
Peggy Whitman served with Carolyn on SITE’s international board of directors as vice president to Carolyn’s presidency in 2001. She recalls “When our SITE duties were over, we decided to gather a group and travel together. And travel we did! For 19 years we travelled, saw the world, enjoyed our wine, and explored. Carolyn was always the one who loved a good map and brought it out always. She also would be the one to get her feet wet in any ocean that she came across. Oh, how I will miss her. My friend, my comrade, my buddy, my pal. Talk about the power of SITE.”
Bill Boyd, another close “travelling” friend of Carolyn’s, and another past president of SITE, said a part of his heart has been torn from him: “Carolyn was blessed with a quick mind, always searching for greater knowledge. She was kind to everyone, with zero tolerance for bigotry or racism. Adventurous, she was always eager for new travel destinations. A consummate student of history and the arts she loved seeing it all first hand, ergo, her love of travel. She loved life and lived it to the fullest!
We bid farewell, adieu, arriverderci to Carolyn Dow, a giant of SITE, but take some small consolation from the fact the Carolyn departed this life while experiencing again the mesmerizing, liberating, transformational power of travel experiences.