For more than 50 years, meeting suppliers have attended conferences sponsored by LIMRA (Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association) International, the premier marketing and research organization in the financial services industry. From the meeting supplier viewpoint, LIMRA meetings complement Insurance Conference Planners Association meetings by giving suppliers an opportunity to meet both the marketing executives and the meeting managers at the companies with which they do business.

At times, however, some ICPA members have expressed concern about supplier participation at LIMRA conferences. LIMRA's viewpoint is that the concern is misplaced. That both the LIMRA/supplier relationship and LIMRA's supplier conferences predate ICPA by a number of decades is, if not the most important reason, certainly a worthy consideration.

Additionally, LIMRA staffers were among the founders of ICPA and, later, worked hard to have suppliers attend ICPA. (At the original ICPA meetings, suppliers were expressly forbidden to attend.) After the supplier attendance hurdle was partially cleared, LIMRA was at the forefront of those who worked to have supplier attendance liberalized.

I can report this because I was there! LIMRA staffers realized, because of their experience, the value and the need for the supplier/planner association. We are delighted it has flourished at ICPA. Likewise, the LIMRA/supplier relationship continues. Our view is that the involvement of suppliers in the two associations is mutually beneficial. LIMRA encourages suppliers to attend both conferences. We expect to continue those policies and to support and encourage ICPA.

Here's a closer look at LIMRA's supplier-attended conferences. These are the marketing officers' educational conferences, not trade shows. The supplier vehicle is the hospitality suite. There are five suites, each sponsored by a group of hotels:

* Classic Hotels and Resorts (Patrick O'Riordan and Dan Cash, principals)

* Hospitality Partners (Jacque Bowen, principal)

* Hyatt Hotels and Resorts (Marilyn Brumbaugh)

* Insurance Meeting Network (Darlene Catan and Marian Gardiner, principals)

* Lynette Owens & Associates (Lynette Owens)

Just as ICPA has a Hospitality Partners Committee, LIMRA has a Suppliers Advisory Committee. This committee recently helped LIMRA streamline its meeting schedule. Four distribution-oriented meetings were rolled into one four-track meeting. In 1996 there were five major supplier-attended LIMRA conferences. Now, there are three:

1. The Group Conference--September 15 to 17, 1999, Hyatt Regency Baltimore

2. The Annual Meeting--October 24 to 27, 1999, Walt Disney World Dolphin

3. The Distribution Conferences--February 20 to 23, 2000, New Orleans Hilton

LIMRA encourages inquiries from planners and suppliers. Contact Pat Kavalski at (860) 298-3959 or pkavalski@limra.com