The leadership of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) -
the international board of directors, including Annette Gregg, SITE's
CEO of 10 months - has redrawn the organisation’s bylines, upsetting
some members in the process.
Opposition to the new bylaws was aired in 23 August letter to all
SITE members penned by Rajeev Kohli, CIS, CITP, on behalf of SITE’s Past
Presidents Council. The letter was sent during the four-week period,
which ends 17 September, that SITE members can vote on the proposed
In part, the letter reads, “We are deeply alarmed at the lack of
transparency in discussions and processes on these changes and find that
whilst a legally correct process has been followed, a morally correct
one has not. Many of us have led bylaw changes over the years and none
have seen a situation like this. What is being presented is rushed,
incomplete and goes against SITE’s core values.
“As past presidents of SITE, we have witnessed and nurtured our
community's growth, founded on principles of transparency, fairness and
equity, and democratic processes. We believe the standards are not met
in the proposed changes. We are alarmed at their potential impact on our
future. They go against the core DNA of what SITE is.
“Without any personal prejudice, we, the below past presidents (24 in
total), strongly oppose all three motions in the form presented and ask
that our members critically assess these proposals themselves and
consider the long-term implications for our beloved community. We are
voting NO to all three proposals as presented and if asked by anyone,
would suggest the same."
Kohli went on to say: "if you find any merit in our opinion, we ask
that you please share this message with your fellow members and chapters
so that everyone can make an informed decision. Everyone must vote.
That is their duty. But vote fully informed. Not voting is also not
Kohli outlined three specific bylaw changes the former presidents oppose:
The first issue is the changing of SITE’s open-election process for
its international board of directors to a closed-slate process, where
the board recommends a vetted slate of directors. In his letter, Kohli
points out that the “current system allows anyone of any level or size
of organization to contest equally, from any country, with any
experience level, of any background. It is open to all, with no
barriers.” He further commented that moving to a slated system “strongly
risks the creation of exclusive elitist cliques, and compromises the
equity and inclusiveness we cherish. It allows for personal biases and
discretion to play a greater role in selection… These changes go against
the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusivity.”
A SITE source said that the purpose of this proposed change is to
ensure that the board reflects all industry segments, including buyers,
hoteliers, destination management companies, convention and visitor
bureaus, and more.
Another controversial change is for SITE’s board to extend the term
of an officer beyond what is stipulated in the bylaws. According to the
SITE insider, this measure is to ensure the board is fully staffed with
experienced directors in the event a board member has to leave their
term early, which has occurred several times in the past years. But the
past presidents object, saying, “If the board at any point requires any
special one-time exemption for a board member to stay an extra year,
that is easily attainable by a special motion to the members. It should
not be a long-term bylaw change. The way this change has been drafted is
poor, but can be acceptable in the future with changes, which are not
The third point of contention is the switching of the oversight for
SITE’s budget from the board's vice president of finance to internal
staff (the organisation is managed by SmithBucklin). The past presidents
fear this move will threaten SITE’s financial transparency.
SITE addressed the concerns pointed out in Kohli's letter with the
following statement: “A number of past presidents disagree with the
proposed bylaw changes and so — to openly address both their pros and
cons, and give all parties an opportunity to express their viewpoint —
we are holding two informational workshops next week [28 and 29 August]
for our membership.
“To date, approximately 5% of our members have cast their votes but,
following the workshops, a member will be able to cancel their original
vote and vote again. This gives fair opportunity to all members to cast
an informed vote, while respecting the international board of director’s
decision to continue the ballot and the time frames required to do so.
“We invited representatives from this group of past presidents to
participate in the workshop and they declined, opting to launch a
grassroots campaign, urging our members to vote against the bylaw
“These issues are relevant only to SITE members, and we feel it’s
inappropriate to debate an association’s internal matters publicly. For
this reason we will not be providing any further public comment on the
“We look forward to engaging with our members during these
forthcoming workshops, hearing both pros and cons, and finally making a
Incentive will post the results of the vote following the 17 September cutoff date.
Source: Incentive, Northstar Meetings Group