At SDI, experience matters – your experience and what happens when work with us, your guests’ experience and how positive and motivated they feel, and our experience of 28 years and a team that has done it all, seen it all, and come through it all flawlessly.
Continuing our theme of Experience Matters, we’re welcoming you “Inside the Experience” and giving you a glimpse into the incredible team members that make working with SDI such an exceptional experience.
Meet Kim Findlay, Senior Account Manager
How long have you been with SDI?
I’ve been with SDI for 8 years but I’ve spent over 20 years in hotels and in the meetings & incentive travel industry.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy working closely with our clients – especially introducing them to new destinations they’ve never visited or experiences that they wouldn’t normally have. It’s exciting to explore a new hotel or the perfect destination for their trip. In particular, I enjoy that SDI has a diverse portfolio of clients full of different types of trips, dynamics and travel experiences. It’s great to be able to design both for experienced travelers who have been across the globe and for travelers who might be getting on an airplane for the very first time.
Why is incentive travel important?
I’ve spent my career in this industry with a degree in hotel management/parks and recreation. Incentive travel is an incredible motivator as it makes people feel valued and appreciated. It also provides a long-term return on investment for our clients – motivated employees feel rewarded, the memorable experience fuels productivity and the impact endures.
What’s the most challenging situation you’ve faced in your role?
After many years in the industry, the most challenging aspects aren’t the unusual or unexpected situations that are actually just a natural part of the event and travel industry. Instead for me it’s the work-life balance when traveling on an average of 6-7 extensive programs each year. As a working parent with two small kids, the biggest challenge is balancing being away from home – and making sure I get back to my family as seamlessly as possible.
What’s your craziest / funniest / weirdest travel story?
I have a client who, during their award ceremony, presents a crystal award with which I travel to the program. I’ve tried both checking their award and carrying it on the plane – every time I’m stopped and searched. About 5 or 6 years ago, I was in the Dominican Republic on my way home from this client’s trip. I’m already seated on the plane, waiting to take-off, when security arrives at my seat and escorts me – and my bag – off the plane. I’m taken to a room with armed guards, and all I can think about is how much I want to get back home to my family after seven days away.
Of course, my plane departs without me – I’m struggling to communicate with the guards. They don’t speak English and my Spanish is too limited to explain why I’m carrying this odd shaped award. Finally, the security team unzips my bag to hand search it … and all the lights go off in the airport. This sudden, ill-timed, power outage means it’s dark and it’s sweltering hot. We’re in the Dominican Republic, in a tiny room packed with people, and there is no air conditioning. Twenty minutes pass and finally, after examining every single thing in my bag, they repack and zip up my bag and send me on my way. At this point all US-bound flights have departed, and I ended up spending an extra night before finally heading home in the morning!
What’s has been your favorite destination to visit with SDI?
I had an incredible opportunity to go on a familiarization trip (a trip hosted by a vendor partner to provide extra exposure to a destination) to Peru. It was an absolutely amazing experience. Not only is it wonderful to be treated like one of our VIP clients, but also I experienced so many incredible things – including farm to table experiences, the brilliance of Cusco, Machu Picchu and much, much more! Peru is a beautiful country with wonderful people, amazing food, and gorgeous scenery.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’ve hiked several 14ers in Colorado, and I’d like to hike them all! International destinations on my list include South Asia – in particular Vietnam and Cambodia — and Japan. And I’d love to spend time in New Zealand and Africa.
About Us: SDI Meetings & Incentives is the global-yet-boutique meetings, incentives and special events partner driven by the basic truth that Experience Matters. Creating custom experiences to reward performance and fuel growth, SDI taps decades of expertise to deliver solutions managed from concept through execution by one tenured point of contact. We’ve produced programs around the world, for groups from 10 to thousands, combining the exact right elements to support our clients’ goals and to motivate and inspire their attendees. Find out more and contact us at ExperienceSDI.com.