Why did you volunteer for the board of directors? What would you say to other members who might be considering it?
Having the opportunity to interact with board members while serving on two design teams (for the annual meetings in Cancun and Toronto), I was motivated to get further involved by seeing firsthand the impact board members have on the overall health of our association through strategic planning. I really enjoy learning the nuts and bolts of how an association board functions. Interacting with such an intelligent, experienced, and respected group of professionals has been an incredibly positive experience.

I would encourage any planner to get involved on a volunteer level and then consider a move to board membership. While there is an additional time commitment, it is an outstanding opportunity to grow in an industry we all love very much!

What are the FICP board’s main areas of focus for the coming year? What do you see as the biggest trends affecting the association?
The biggest trend affecting associations nationwide is declining membership. Membership always has been the No. 1 focus of FICP and that will not change. While FICP is fortunate to have a dedicated group of planners who renew every year, we cannot become complacent in our efforts to increase our numbers.

Another goal is to strengthen our educational platform so we have more consistency among the regional meetings, the education forum, and the annual conference. And of course, fiscal transparency between SmithBucklin and our membership group is paramount!

What is your company’s outlook for meetings in 2011?
Securian held steady with its meeting count through 2009 and 2010, and the outlook for 2011 is right on plan. We may even see a slight increase in small, pop-up meetings. I find hotels and vendors are still flexible in the negotiating process. It does help for the planner to be equally flexible. For example, sometimes planners accept a higher room rate than they planned to, but as a result, our hotel partners are often more willing to agree to concessions such as discounted audiovisual, food and beverage, and more relaxed attrition clauses.

What are you most looking forward to at the annual meeting?
Besides enjoying a fabulous property in a magnificent destination, I am looking forward to connecting with planners, meeting with HPers, and connecting with friends I’ve made throughout the years. The FICP Annual really is the place where friends are made and business gets done!