In the spotlight: Kate Benzine

Susie HarwoodBlog

The youngest director on the 2020 SITE GB board, Kate Benzine joined Spectra, one of the UK’s leading DMCs, in 2012 after graduating from The University of Kent with a degree in French and Spanish. A talent for organising people, combined with her language skills led to an introduction to Spectra and the world of incentive travel, and she’s not looked back since. Based in London, Kate’s role as a business development manager sees her working mostly with long haul corporate and incentive group business inbound into the UK. 

How long have you been involved with SITE GB and what’s your role on the board?

I have been an active SITE Member since 2012 and am the current Director of SITE Great Britain Young Leaders. I sit on the SITE GB board as the Young Leaders representative. 

Can you tell us more about the Young Leaders movement?

SITE Young Leaders is a global community of young professionals who are at the beginning of their career within the incentive travel industry. A Young Leader is an individual under the age of 35 or with less than 5 years of experience within the industry. Our goal is to offer support to up-and-coming talent in their workplace through networking, educational and inspirational events.  Alongside the main SITE events which are open to all Members, SITE Young Leaders hold a number of events each year, offering a fantastic opportunity to engage with industry peers and be part of a community with a thirst for education and knowledge.

This year has been difficult as the Young Leaders community has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many have been furloughed or made redundant, so keeping in touch with people has been a big challenge. Hopefully as furlough ends and people get back to work, we will be able to bring them back into the fold again. I think our focus next year will be around confidence building as having such a long period of time away from work will have knocked peoples’ confidence.

What are the top three things you personally get out of being involved with SITE?

For me, one of the greatest values of being part of SITE is the opportunity to make connections with like-minded people who share my passion for incentive travel. I know that many of these will be relationships for life, and I am grateful for this.

Secondly, being part of this Global community means that we all benefit from a huge resource base. I know that I’ve personally profited from being able to tap into the great insights and knowledge shared by our colleagues worldwide and it’s this information sharing that makes us stronger as an industry.

Lastly, the support and motivation that SITE offers are incredible. The passion for the industry is apparent in all that SITE does and being part of a group of people who work to positively impact the experiences of others is a great place to be in my view!

How has Spectra had to adapt as a business during the pandemic?

Like many others, we have seen an increase in virtual and hybrid event requests; an area that pre-pandemic was not something that we would typically be asked for. Usually, alongside our programme operations we would have welcomed a number of familiarisation visits and site inspections throughout the year, which we have had to switch to virtual.

These don’t replace that all-important in-person experience but have allowed us to communicate with our clients in a meaningful way during this time. The virtual and hybrid incentive option helps to drive results for companies right now but in my view, it is very much a short-term solution. Ultimately, people do still want to get together – it’s what humans are programmed to do and how we work best.

As a company we have also had a heavy focus on our social media content during this time and seen some great interaction there. It’s been another way for us to keep in touch with our wider community on a more personal level and also to keep the destination at the forefront of our client’s minds. 

Are you getting many incentive enquiries right now?

We are busy, which is good, but most of the enquiries we are getting are for 2022 and 2023. Lead-times for our European client base are usually shorter, and we have had some enquiries for September and October next year.

What do you most love about delivering incentives?

There is no better feeling than being able to see first-hand the impact that the programme you’ve created has had on an individual, group, and community. I feel privileged to be able create experiences that leave a lasting impression and elicit an emotional response. 

What do you think incentive trips will look like post-COVID? Will they go back to the way they were?

I passionately believe that incentive programmes will return and be as strong a motivator as they have been in the past. Programmes will likely look and feel different as we will all be mindful of our guests’ safety, but if done right, these changes may be used to enhance guest experience.

For example, it is likely that we will see smaller groups travelling on incentive programmes in the near future which, for some groups may open up further opportunities that they may not have been able to do as a large group and serve to increase that feeling of exclusivity – such as a behind the scenes tour or entirely bespoke one-to-one experience.

Describe your dream UK incentive…

I’ve always loved split programmes as they give guests the opportunity to have two entirely different experiences in one trip. So, my dream UK incentive would definitely involve some time experiencing London and its incredible energy, followed by a luxury transfer to Edinburgh on board the Belmond British Pullman, and being able to get a taste for the beauty of Scotland. Both destinations truly have so much to offer that it would be challenging to decide exactly what to include in each location!

If you could get on a plane right now, where would you go and why?

What a tough question for someone who is always itching to get on a plane! Right now, I’d settle for just about anywhere! But I’d probably just go and hole up on a Greek island for two weeks. Either that or go all out and do something like an African safari.

Your most important travel accessory?

Hopefully I’m travelling to somewhere warm and sunny so sunglasses, of course! But practically, my travel wallet containing all important documents. You can’t take the planner out of me!

And finally, what are you most looking forward to once the threat of COVID has finally passed?

Without a doubt, I am most looking forward to being able to welcome our clients back to the UK. I’m passionate about sharing our fantastic country with our groups and creating those “forever” memories. On a personal note, the social part of me will be ecstatic – being able to get together again without restrictions will be incredible!