by Jonathan Vatner | February 01, 2007

Bob VitaglianoNature abhors a vacuum, and apparently so does the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives. Just six months after the SITE Foundation (the society’s research and education division) splintered off and changed its name to the Incentive Research Foundation (or IRF), SITE introduced the International SITE Foundation, a new group with a slightly different mission.

IRF will remain focused on research that benefits the entire incentive industry, explained Ira Almeas, CITE, president of IRF’s board of trustees and president of Impact Meetings & Incentives, based in East Hanover, N.J. According to Almeas, IRF relinquished the SITE name when it declined a request by the society to raise funds. Instead, SITE’s new foundation (abbreviated as ISITE) will do fund-raising and will focus specifically on incentive travel.

Jerry McGee, chairman of ISITE’s board and president of the Newport Beach, Calif.-based Ambassadors International, said future research by ISITE will aim to determine what percentage of organizations globally use incentive travel. IRF is working on its own industry profile for the U.S. incentive market as a whole (i.e., more than just travel).

At press time, a financial agreement hadn’t yet been reached between SITE and IRF. Almeas said IRF had offered seed money to the new foundation but was not legally bound to do so. SITE was mum on the details of a potential agreement.

“Once the legalities get out of the way, the two foundations can coexist in a friendly manner,” said Bob Vitagliano, CITE (above), the new executive director of ISITE, a former CEO of SITE and principal of V Associates in Wilmington, N.C. “In a sense, our overall goals -- which are to grow the industry -- are exactly the same.”