A sellout crowd of close to 150 planners and hospitality partners attended the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Canadian Region annual meeting at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, August 25–27.

Led by FICP Region Chair Jeff Leggett, meeting manager at Co-Operators Insurance, and Vice Chair Kathy Lind, senior events manager, Sun Life Financial, the event kicked off with emcee James Cunningham providing lots of laughter to entertain the crowd.

Day one included an enlightening discussion on the state of the economy by keynote speaker Amanda Lang, lead business reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Lang highlighted the fact that we must learn from our previous economic mistakes or we will be certain to repeat them in the months to come.

More insight was provided by the host hotel, which conducted a behind-the-scenes tour of the newly built Ritz-Carlton and gave attendees the opportunity to see what goes on in the back of the house as the hotel prepares each day to assist its guests.

The jam-packed day continued with breakout sessions on working with convention and visitors bureaus and a popular food-and-beverage trends session—including samples from a number of local Ontario producers!

The first day wrapped up with a first-timer reception, a Canadian-food–themed dinner hosted by The Ritz-Carlton that featured a most popular poutine station, and finally, dancing with entertainment provided by Lady Kane.

Day two started with a new design to showcase a fresh way of working through a general session. A radio-themed format was used to introduce both of the day’s speakers, and to provide entertainment for the attendees. Jeff Leggett and day-two emcee Mike Carbone were the “radio hosts” who interviewed speakers and added some mock weather, a business report, and even a random song request along the way. Keynote presenter Dr. Brian Little, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, discussed understanding personality differences, and group dynamics, while keynoter Scott Rutherford offered a presentation on integrative thinking.

A panel with representatives from Hilton Worldwide, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., West Jet Airlines, plus a meeting planner, discussed the current and future state of the industry, and the business of the day wrapped up with a breakout on presentation skills facilitated by author Lorraine Behnan. Evening entertainment featured a three-stop tour of neighboring hotels: the Marriott Eaton Centre, Sheraton Centre, and Fairmont Royal York.

On the final day, the famous Second City entertainment troupe worked with audience members to improve fundamentals that enhance communication skills. One enduring message: Do not shut down any new ideas, as they can grow into something worthwhile in the brainstorming phase.

Thank you to the Canadian Region Design Team and sponsors for an engaging, inspiring, and enjoyable regional meeting!