A packed educational agenda drew 149 planners and hospitality partners to the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Education Forum, June 20 to 22. This year, the annual three-day conference, aptly themed “Presenting You,” focused on helping attendees improve professional skills and enhance business communication techniques. The program included four keynotes, 12 breakout sessions, and 21 speakers.

The 400-room St. Regis, Monarch Beach resort — located in Dana Point, Calif., on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean — provided a great indoor and outdoor setting for attendees to network, reconnect with industry peers, and take part in the dynamic educational content.

FICP President Sharon Chapman, CMP, CMM, Berkshire Life Insurance Co., kicked off the meeting with welcoming remarks. After a networking lunch, opening keynote and master of ceremonies Linda Edgecombe, BPE, CSP, spoke on motivation and “attitude management.”

FICP Vice President, education Kim Boriin, CMP, Guardian Investor Services LLC, discussed some recent green initiatives from FICP and the St. Regis, Monarch Beach. These included conference materials printed on recycled paper, pitchers of water in place of bottled water, the recent appointment of a “green team” at the St. Regis focused on recycling and energy conservation, and FICP's July 18 green meetings webinar (see page 12).

Among the breakout highlights was a discussion on strategic career advancement, led by FICP Vice President, Membership Dan Young, CMP, LLIF, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The session focused on steps planners can take to elevate their department's strategic importance within the company, including developing a microsite about the meeting department on the corporate Web site; requiring that all meeting planners attend industry association meetings and work toward getting their CMP designations; and quantifying all cost-saving measures and presenting these to the CFO. Other presenters were Jan Hennessey, CMP, CMM, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co.; and Thomas F. Spinelli, CLU, FLMI, LIMRA International.

Another popular breakout focused on strategic hotel negotiations. Jennifer Brown, CMP, Meeting Site Resources, led attendees through a hands-on approach to evaluating a meeting by looking at it from the hotel's perspective. The session included a discussion on the variables that influence pricing and what to consider when negotiating with hotels — including guest rooms-to-meeting space ratio, lead time, seasonality, history, risk, arrival/departure pattern, and transient demand. On the Forum's final morning, keynote speaker Nicholas Boothman, author of How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less, got the group on their feet to learn communication techniques for improving business interactions.

Next year's Education Forum will be held at the Disney Yacht Club Resort in Orlando, June 18 to 20.