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In the Category of Stranger than Fiction...

Posted by Stacy Straczynski on September 02, 2008

By Terry Epton, Chief Executive Officer of USA Hosts, Ltd. and online columnist for Incentive magazine

When you've been in this industry as long as I have, you have lots of stories to share. Some tales are romantic, some are adventurous, some illustrate genius, some are tragic and some are just plain bizarre--such as this one tale told to me several years ago at an incentive industry conference by one of SITE's founding members and past presidents...

We were at a tiki bar behind the beach resort where an event was headquartered. Our conversation took place as I was taking a break from some rather strenuous body surfing in the amazing waves. While I was watching two of my closest colleagues continue to catch wave after wave, my friend described a site inspection that his co-worker and a client were on for the purposes of wrapping up the details of a future incentive trip.  He explained to me that while sitting on the same stool, at the same tiki bar, his co-worker was watching his client body surfing in similar conditions. The inspection trip had been a success and the hotel was in the process of making some final adjustments to the contract. It was a rather satisfying moment for the incentive company executive, seeing his happy client and realizing that well-made plans were now in place for an impressive sales incentive program, featuring this fabulous resort. All that was left was Shark_surferfor the client to sign the contract and attend a hosted dinner at the hotel's gourmet restaurant before returning to the States in the morning. That's when he noticed his client being followed in the surf by a large shadow, which turned out to be an enormous shark.  As quick as he could stand up and shout, the shark ended his client's life and the incentive program that was so close to fruition.

Hearing this account, I was stunned for a moment, and then shocked to see my two close friends still out there in the waves. I called them in, bought us all a round of drinks and counted my blessings! In what other business would you hear a story like that? 

Editor's Note: Be sure to read Terry Epton's September column on the history of the incentive industry on Incentivemag.com


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