Assistant Vice President,
Travel and Recognition
The New England
"Golf is still the number-one leisure activity for our participants. However, I have noticed two new things. First of all, people want more active adventure, things that they don't normally do. For instance, at our upcoming trip to Aspen, we're offering white-water rafting, fly-fishing, and a hands-on culinary program. People don't want to be talked at, they want to be involved. Everyone is so 'wired'--cable TV, computers, technology--that they're getting numb. They want to step out of the norm and do something. This leads to the second thing I've noticed: People want free time on trips. Their lives are so harried that they just want time to themselves."
David Pierce, CLU, ChFC
Manager, Marketing Promotions
American General Life & Accident
"Yes, we have seen some changes. Not everybody likes to play golf. We've seen a trend in attendees asking us for recreation that would be suitable for families. They say, 'We'll pay for travel if you'll accommodate children.' And we've done that.
Recently, we've gone to Orlando and Nashville; we're trying to go to a 'family' property every three years. We recently had 700 children at Opryland in Nashville. We brought in a live Ken and Barbie who talked to the kids; we organized a scavenger hunt; and we brought in a country songwriter who wrote and sang a song with the kids, which we recorded and sent to them. We've gotten beyond face painting."
Dennis L. Craig, FLMI
Assistant Vice President, Marketing
Gerling Global Life Insurance
"We do provide more free time, which has been a big hit, and also we've been setting it up so there are choices in terms of what attendees can do. One of the things we did at the last convention was give them a day where they had a range of six or seven optional activities from which to choose. And then on one other day, we had a couple of activities that they could choose as well."
Director, Conference & Travel Services
Kansas City Life Insurance Company
Kansas City, MO
"I think people are looking for something different, a sense of adventure. Recently, we were at the Hyatt Regency in Coolum, Australia. Four of us hiked Mount Coolum. We pushed ourselves and really developed a sense of camaraderie. One guy took along a pair of boxer shorts to use as a flag at the top. When we came back down, we told everyone how wonderful it was, and then there was a rush to go. About 20 people did it the second time; it wasn't necessarily the people who were in shape, either. During another meeting at La Quinta, in Palm Springs, CA, many people preferred a hiking option over a tramway to the top; one man who hiked said at a recent conference that it was one of his favorite memories.
"I think that as the group ages, they are looking for more of those experiences that have enhanced their lives. It's easy to sit in a bus and see the scenery going by, but when you join the scenery you become one with it. There's a lot of soul-searching going on; people are looking for fulfillment. The insurance industry is pretty traditional, but I tend to want to get out of the mainstream, to take people by the hand, pull them off to the side, and give them a different perspective."
VP, Marketing and Corporate Communications
Security Benefit Group of Companies
"We have changed our optional activities to appeal to a more diverse group. For example, for our upcoming trip to New Zealand, we have included an optional white-water rafting trip in addition to the traditional sightseeing outings. We always make sure to have at least one outdoor event oriented towards active people. These are not necessarily younger people, either. Many of the older people in our group are very active."
Symons International Group, Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
"Symons participates in an annual 'Big I Day' for all of the agents within a given county. There's a golfand a tennis option. These activities usually take people through late afternoon, when they get ready for the evening--a formal sit-down dinner at a very nice place. People enjoy this day, and I don't sense that anyone wants to change it."