More than 75 meeting planners and hospitality partners attended the Northeast Regional Meeting August 12–14 in Stowe, Vermont. Nestled at the base of Mount Mansfield, where street signs alert you to “Bear & Moose Crossing,” the Stowe Mountain Lodge was the perfect backdrop to “Connect, Learn, Evolve in the Green Mountains.” The Alpine style of the hotel gave a feeling of being far away while remaining in quintessential New England.

The program kicked off with a welcome reception and hospitality partner marketplace, followed by dinner including the Vermont tradition of Sugar on Snow (maple syrup over shaved ice) for dessert. This opportunity to network allowed participants to strengthen friendships and create new connections while sitting around the fire.

Monday morning, the agenda commenced with a welcome from the Stowe Mountain Lodge, Vermont Convention Bureau, and Vermont Department of Tourism. All shared the message that Stowe is a four-season destination—not just cows and skiing. From adventure on a zip line to relaxation at a spa, there is something for everyone. 

Also on the agenda was FICP Membership Manager Mark Swets, who gave an update on what is new at FICP and spoke about the benefits of FICP membership. 

Peter Straube, director of the Hotel & Event Management Program at Champlain College, began the educational portion of the agenda with an outlook on the meeting and events industry. Straube reviewed seven key meeting themes and the four reasons why we meet: to learn, network, collaborate, and have fun.

Education continued with a technology presentation by Dahlia El Gazaar, a self-proclaimed “supplanner” (both supplier and meeting planner), who gave a high-energy, hands-on class on using meeting apps for productivity. Some of her favorite apps are Evernote, Dropbox, Hipmunk, and Join.Me. 

After lunch on the terrace overlooking Mount Mansfield, sessions continued with a roundtable discussion on how to write winning RFPs, followed by an expert panel of hospitality partners who spoke about how to leverage working relationships. These two sessions both touched upon how the “Buy FICP” initiative and collaborating as partners are the true keys to success when trying to do more with less.

Attendees at the FICP Northeast Region Meeting gather in the lobby of Stowe Mountain Lodge with the bears they stuffed for donation to the Vermont Children’s Hospital. In front of photo, from left: Jim Beaulieu, Stowe Mountain Lodge; Shelia Cleary, Vice Chair, Northeast Region, Karin Pontelandolfo, Chair, Northeast Region; and Krista DiCaprio, The Sagamore, which sponosred the giveback activity.

After a visit by the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream truck, attendees continued the FICP tradition of giving back by participating in a bear factory project sponsored by The Sagamore Resort. The group stuffed 100 teddy bears to be donated to the Vermont Children’s Hospital in Burlington. In addition, three “FICP Bears” were raffled off and raised $1,005 to be donated along with the teddy bears to the hospital. Kathy O’Reilly, Child Life Specialist at the Vermont Children’s Hospital was there to receive these donations and speak about the importance of the program. 

That evening’s progressive dinner began at the Stoweflake Resort with a reception including hot-air balloon rides by the Baraw family, and wrapped up with dinner around the pool at Topnotch Resort with s’mores by the fire for dessert. The two resorts highlighted the beauty of Stowe and all it has to offer.

Tuesday morning, attendees separated for two idea-sharing sessions, the Meeting Planners’ Exchange and Hospitality Partners’ Forum. After re-convening as one group, attendees discussed how to contract outside traditional hotels, including common contract challenges and negotiating outside the hotel for speakers and entertainment. 

Murray Banks closed out the program with his keynote, sponsored by Speak Inc. To get through tough and changing times, Murray suggested going to the B.A.R. (that is, breathe and relax) when you need to refocus, how fun can change behavior, and that success requires avoiding your comfort zone so you can always learn, change, and adapt. He ended with an adventure story about skiing through crevasses to demonstrate that success is achieved by focusing on the openings, not the obstacles. 

A special thank you to the beautiful Stowe Mountain Lodge and all our sponsors and hospitality partners for their generous support! The next Northeast Regional Meeting takes place January 27–29, 2013 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. Planners: Contact Karin Pontelandolfo or Sheila Cleary if you are interested in being on the design team.