Volunteer Leadership is something many of us in the travel industry can bond over, no matter what organization we volunteer with. It’s that very topic that myself and my good friend and industry colleague through the DMC Network, Lorenzo Pignatti, exchanged thoughts on during a recent catch-up. We reflected on why it is so important for the DMC Network to champion and support our own teams and our DMC partners in pursuing volunteer leadership roles.

I have had the great honor of serving SITE as the association’s President in 2021, and Lorenzo as President of ADMEI. While we are both sad to see these particular chapters in our volunteer leadership lives closing, we are very certain that it is not the end of our opportunity to give back to this incredible industry. Below, we share just a few of the benefits we have experienced through our many years with SITE and ADMEI.

We are also beyond thrilled to support SITE’s incoming 2022 president Kevin Edmunds and ADMEI’s incoming president Jeff Nelke in their leadership roles this year. Our associations are in a GREAT place with these epic industry leaders at the helm!

So relatable

Lorenzo and I are in full agreement: our volunteer leadership roles have helped us cultivate the strongest of friendships — vital for how we do business. In an industry that’s so incredibly people-oriented, cultivating good relationships (that often morph into even stronger friendships) is how we excel. As Lorenzo so wisely put it during our conversation, the time we’ve spent as association leaders has brought our relationships, whether they are with new connections or existing ones, to completely new levels.

We’re stronger when we face challenges together

Lorenzo also noted that “From crisis, you always find new opportunities.” He cited discussions he’d had over the past year across a range of topics, from contracting to program delivery, that have strengthened the ways he works.

I’ve seen the same with SITE. Pandemic-induced Zoom calls with many SITE colleagues (still a novelty back in the early days of COVID!) helped me quickly get invaluable global perspectives and grasp conditions in destinations around the world. It even brought me into closer coordination with competitors. Connections made through strong associations like SITE allow you to have conversations that would never be possible in the normal world of business, and “changes the language of the conversation completely,” as Lorenzo so brilliantly put it.

Sharing the spotlight can be even more empowering

Another lesson I’ve learned through volunteer leadership: if the timing and opportunity isn’t right for you, there’s likely someone else you can champion. Lorenzo and I have both seen how giving others on our teams or in our networks exposure, opportunities to grow, and support through volunteer leadership benefits not only your team, but grows the industry overall.

New skills abound

This could easily be a post-within-a-post given the countless benefits I could speak to as the products of my personal service leadership experience. To name just a few though, I’ve honed an ability to speak more authoritatively, understand topics more deeply, and have had opportunities to learn through credible, recognizable certifications all through my volunteer leadership role — starting in my early days as a SITE Young Leader!

Keeping connected

Here’s where I pass the baton to Lorenzo, an entrepreneur extraordinaire within the DMC Network. When asked what’s been most beneficial about his time as a volunteer leader, Lorenzo was quick to share. “There’s nothing worse for entrepreneurs than feeling cut out,” he said. “You can easily lose your bearings. I’m very thankful for that [ADMEI] connection.”

We’ve all experienced days especially over these past two years where, as Lorenzo put it, “Life in the office was really flat and frustrating.” He says that ADMEI — and his role with the association — proved to be a huge source of motivation that kept him engaged and moving even on dark days.

The clouds are clearing though. Lorenzo and I are thrilled to be meeting up together, alongside many of our DMC Network partners, at both associations’ Global Conferences this year!

ADMEI’s conference will be taking place in February 24–26 in Boston, Massachusetts, and SITE’s Global Conference will be taking place from April 20–23 in my own hometown of Dublin, Ireland.

We are SO looking forward to seeing so many of you at each of these events. You can find links below to register for each:

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