Michael J. Hurwitz, CITE, the founder and chairman of United Incentives and a former president of SITE, died April 14, 2016, after a fierce fight against cancer. A graduate of Central High School and Penn State University, Mr. Hurwitz received many awards for excellence in his profession and has many business friends around the world who will remember him for his professionalism and dedication to world travel. He leaves behind his wife, Susan, his children Andy Hurwitz (Phyllis) and Lisa Hurwitz, and grandchildren Samson, Charlie and Julius Hurwitz, and Nathaniel, Henry and Eli Root.
Michael’s energy, humor and dedication to his passions leave us with many profound, funny and beautiful memories. From his role professionalizing the incentive industry with his leadership of SITE, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, counseling the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, his participation in numerous industry advisory boards, to the hundreds of thousands, or as he would often say “six figures,” of smiles left on the faces of clients, Michael loved sharing those joys. His legacy includes a strong United Incentives and a team of people who share his passion for excellence and commitment to exceeding expectations. We will all miss him and hope the next time you experience a great incentive event you’ll think of him fondly.
Michael authored numerous articles and lectured extensively on incentive marketing throughout much of the world. His advertising agency background brought into focus creativity that produced results. Michael earned the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation — the industry’s highest recognition.
Funeral services were held April 18 at the Roosevelt Memorial Park Mausoleum Chapel, Trevose, Pennsylvania. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Pennsylvania S.P.C.A., 350 E. Erie Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19134.
When Michael Hurwitz, CITE, left this world, he took a big piece of me with him. He was my first mentor, believing in me and putting me on the long road to the eventual global leadership of SITE.
Michael exemplified everything good about SITE and the incentive industry at large. There are no words to adequately describe our loss, but these pop up when I think of the man he was: brilliant, creative thinker, ground breaker, risk taker, image maker, great debater, instigator and innovator!
This visionary man also had a great sense of humor. I remember with a smile his “weather report” from the top of the telephone pole at a ropes course in Santa Fe — he hated heights but climbed up anyway and made us all laugh.
Louise Hall Reider, CITE
President & Founder
Louise Hall Reider & Company
Global Past President, SITE
First Chairman, Council of Past Presidents, SITE
This is how I will remember Mike…
But before this, Mike handed me so much more. His love of life, the joy of family, a passion for the business, a penchant for teaching others, a talent for written communication, a flair for the dramatic, a wicked sense of humor, a love of speed in boats and cars, an endearing self-deprecation, an ability to not take himself too seriously, and a fierce loyalty for his friends and staff.
On one of my last visits with Mike in his office, he walked me to a specific photo on the wall, one of many in his SITE memorabilia-filled office. It was a photo taken on the occasion of SITE’s 25th anniversary — a client invitational held in Stockholm, Sweden, intentionally positioned the day after Nelson Mandela received his Nobel Peace Prize. He said it was his favorite photo because the people in the photo were his favorite people. His face revealed this same sentiment, one of genuine fondness for his friends and for an industry which he loved. He would look at this photo, his gaze lingering as the memories returned. His eyes would twinkle and a slight grin would appear as he recalled some pleasant, private moment, before he turned and sat down again to continue the conversation. That’s how I choose to remember Mike. R.I.P. Michael.
World Marketing Group
A very sad day…
A very sad day when we lost Michael Hurwitz. He was a great storyteller, funny, creative and a generous person. I was fortunate to have shared many experiences with Michael over the years. During his time on the SITE board and his presidency, he made his mark in the incentive industry as a unique thinker and as a natty dresser, even going sockless as he was known to do — including at black-tie dinners.
We were blessed to have Michael join us this past October at The Past Presidents of the SITE International Board of Directors meeting. And as I recall, in his immortal words on that occasion: “It’s all about the branding and lasting impressions” as we unveiled the evolution of SITE’s graphics and sipped a very good bottle of champagne. He was very proud of where we were. Little did we realize that for many of us that would be Michael’s send-off to his fellow P.P.s.
On behalf of The Opus Group and my business partner, Lisa, our deepest condolences to Michael’s family and associates. There will never be another one quite like him.
The Opus Group
“Good enough never is.”
Michael Hurwitz did not invent incentives, but his love for the industry helped it grow to where it is today. Whether educating tourist boards and hotels to the fundamentals of incentives, leading as president of SITE or sitting on advisory boards, he remained a passionate ambassador for incentives. He was proud of United Incentives and fostered a culture that believes trust and loyalty are the pillars of success and that a good team beats a great person. Michael believed, “good enough never is” and that philosophy continues to be carried out by the United Incentives team toward a successful future.
United Incentives Inc.
He was a gift to us all…
I am serving as historian for SITE right now, so I have been collecting information. The personal comments are flowing in about Michael…most of them centering around his passion for SITE and the incentive travel industry, his wit, sense of humor and his mentorship for so many in our industry. Personally, I will miss him. He was a gift to all of us, and I feel a great sense of loss for our industry.
Mike and I were on the board together, and I remember his quest to make SITE more global in nature. He often said, “The sun does not rise in New York and set in California.” He really wanted people to think beyond the United States and understand that incentive travel was used all over the world to improve business results.
In 1990, during Mike’s presidential year, the SITE International Conference was held in New York City and the last general session was held during a live session at the United Nations. Later, on the last day of the conference, Donald and Ivana Trump led the attendees up Fifth Avenue to The Plaza Hotel (which they had recently bought) for the final night gala. Joan Rivers spoke at the dinner that evening. We were all on top of the world about this conference. The excitement of New York, the UN, our international attendees, and then….the Trumps and Joan Rivers. What a memorable couple of days!
Also during 1990, the year of his presidency, the Master Measurement Model was published by SITE in conjunction with the American Productivity and Quality Center. We also published the SITE Incentive Travel Case Study Book (Puerto Rico made it possible). These were big accomplishments for SITE. The Mexico and Germany chapters of SITE were launched in Michael’s year, two chapters that have shaped SITE’s future.