INCENTIVEWISE

inSITEs from SITE's new Northern California chapter

ft. Chapter President Gary Murakami 

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SITE welcomed two new chapters to its global community in late 2023, with the launch of SITE Northern California (NorCal) and SITE Arabia. Both chapters are now enjoying a busy start to Q1 of 2024, with more ahead for the rest of the year, too.  

We've asked Gary Murakami, a familiar name for many in the industry, to share more about how the SITE NorCal launch is going, as well as plans for their first full year as a new SITE chapter. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about the make-up of your chapter, as it gets fully off the ground. How many members do you have, and what segments of the incentive travel industry do they primarily represent? 

A: The chapter is currently comprised of a diverse group of members with a strong mix of planners and suppliers that include hotels, destination management companies (DMCs), convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), venues, and other related sectors.

While most members are based in California, the chapter also has representation from various other US regions that have an interest and focus for this market. We feel that the current chapter composition reflects a dynamic and inclusive community within the incentive travel association.

Our chapter goal for 2024 was to achieve 75 members, and we are delighted that SITE Northern CA Chapter has more than 90 members here at the start to the year and will continue to foster and to encourage more members to join this year.

Q: How did your first kick-off event go, and what other in-person opportunities will members have to connect with the NorCal chapter this year? 

A: Our SITE Northern California Chapter's relaunch event, "SITE for the Senses," was a tremendous success, captivating our attendees with its immersive and innovative approach.

The event, designed to engage all five human senses, was well-received through its curation and unique experience. The chapter will explore "leaning into" the sensory aspect woven into the incentive travel experience, promising to incorporate it into future programming.

Attendees can anticipate a series of events that showcase Northern California's offerings while providing opportunities for networking, learning, and inspiration with the intent to redefining corporate events with vibrant and unforgettable experiences.

Q: Are there specific industry topics or issues that the chapter is excited to explore or address?

A: SITE’s Northern CA Chapter will take on critical industry topics and trends for incentive travel that may include the integration of technology to enhance participant engagement and experience, the growing demand for sustainable and socially responsible incentive programs, the rise of unique destination experiences, and the importance of customization and personalization in incentive offerings.

Additionally, our programming hopes to explore and delve into the evolving role of wellness and mindfulness within the incentive industry, acknowledging the growing emphasis on participants' overall well-being.

These overall trends align with the broader industry shift towards creating meaningful and memorable experiences that go beyond traditional reward structures, catering to the diverse preferences and values of incentive program participants.

Q: Why should SITE members and friends consider Northern California itself for incentive programs right now?

A: SITE members and friends should strongly consider Northern California for incentive programs due to our region's unique blend of innovation, diverse landscapes, and cultural richness.

The success of the inaugural "SITE for the Senses" event in Napa underscores the chapter's commitment to curating immersive experiences that showcase the vibrant and unique spirit of our destination. Northern California offers a dynamic and diverse collection of urban sophistication, picturesque natural settings, and world-class culinary experiences.

The chapter's programming plans, infused with a focus on sensory engagement, commit to provide our attendees with an unparalleled journey and exploration that incorporates our region and sense of place. Our destination not only aligns with current industry trends including sustainability, inclusion and diversity, and unique experiences; it also presents an opportunity for our members and attendees to indulge in the distinctive and ever-evolving character of Northern California.

Q: What made you personally interested in embracing this leadership opportunity to serve as chapter president? 

A: I am honored and excited to take on the role of inaugural chapter president for SITE Northern California, a position to personally champion the vision of creating unparalleled experiences and learning and facilitating connections through a shared passion for the incentive industry.

Embracing this leadership opportunity, I am driven by a passion for showcasing the unique offerings of our destination in Northern California as an incentive experience and cultivating a community of industry professionals that thrives on innovation, connection, and the power of shared experiences focused on incentive travel.

As we as a chapter embark on this exciting journey together, I remain committed to fostering a dynamic chapter that not only reflects the spirit of our region and sets new standards in the incentive travel industry.

Written by

SITE Staff

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