First-Ever Weekend Meeting Wins Raves from ICPA Canadian Chapter The ICPA Canadian Chapter met in Montreal this summer for a first-time event that built a strong foundation for future programs.

From August 25 to 27, a group of 12 Canadian planners, along with hospitality partners from Canada and the U.S., met at the elegant Le Centre Sheraton to discuss industry issues and enjoy a taste of Montreal's joie de vivre.

"This was the first time we took a meeting to this level, and it achieved our goal to keep the Chapter motivated," says chapter chair and conference organizer Barb Giesbrecht, assistant conference planing manager for Great-West Life in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "All the feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive, and for me, it was a personal high." Next year's meeting will be held in Toronto.

Among the speakers were Michael Tremlay, manager, corporate sales, Air Canada; Marilyn Dalzell, account executive, American Express; and Linda Davidson, president, Canspeak. According to Davidson, hot speaker topics include anything to do with technology and how to use it, how to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and holistic medicine. On the other hand, total quality management, the environment, and stress are out of favor as speaking topics.

Roundtable discussions covered budget-stretching ideas, incentive conferences in Canada, and tax implications for Canadian companies holding meetings outside Canada. Each table of participants discussed the issue for about 20 minutes, and then presented recommendations to the larger group.

Budget Tips Need a champagne program on a beer budget? Canadian chapter members said it's possible. Some of their ideas:

- Outside Canada or the U.S., it is not always economical to rent high-tech equipment. One solution is to advise speakers to use low-tech presentations.

- Paying for a beverage cart on the golf course can be deadly. Give the banquet manager a specific dollar amount beyond which he cannot go.

- The more in-house events you book at the hotel, the more negotiating power you have for lower guest room rates.

- Use food leftovers: If you have brownies for dessert at lunch, use the leftovers for the afternoon break.

- Ask one speaker to talk on two topics or to lead a breakout session - you've already paid his transportation costs.

- Use a FedEx shipping consultant for meetings outside the country to make sure everything is properly labeled and all appropriate forms are filled out.

- Ship your meeting materials in one big container rather than a lot of boxes.

- Use corporate merchandise like travel bags or mugs for gratuities.

- Call local CVBs for free help.