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2017 Review - Chicago's year of Incentive Travel Excellence

The new year is off to a rapid start, and I’ve hardly had a moment to reflect on 2017. It was a big year for me professionally having made the transition from graduate school in 2016 to working full time in 2017. But the topic of this post is about a chance encounter back in May that led to my involvement with SITE Chicago, recently named SITE Global’s Chapter of the Year. 

I first discovered the incentive travel industry, alongside SITE, in 2007 at a very uncertain time. It was an important election year and the impact of bursting housing bubbles, collateralized debt obligations, and failing banks was not immediately clear. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go so well. 

Fast forward 10 years - long after pivoting my photo service and career for the new economy - to my friend’s Sunday yoga party where I met Shannon Gehringer. Shannon casually mentioned that she plans incentive travel programs and is part of SITE Chicago’s leadership. SITE, it turned out, was in need of a photographer for their upcoming events to showcase the cool experiences they were creating for their members. 

Hearing of SITE Chicago’s recognition came as no surprise. Each new event I photographed surpassed the last as they showed SITE leaders’ ability to craft memorable experiences. First was a helicopter tour of Chicago, followed by Kevin Coffey’s travel security workshop held in the beautiful Warwick Allerton. This fall we went indoor skydiving at iFly Rosemont, and just a few weeks ago was the 3rd Annual Holiday Trolley around Chicago.

SITE Chicago won recognition for their efforts in 2017 because they know how to create extraordinary experiences for their members, just as they do for their incentive travel clients. I’m so honored to have been a part of these events, to photograph them and showcase the experience and the leadership’s talent. Below is a sample of images from last year’s events (full gallery here). I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!