Taking “make learning fun” to heart, Global Events Partners, a network of destination management companies from all over the world, hosted 80 meeting and incentive planners in June for three days of learning, networking, and just plain fun.

GEP's 3rd Annual Executive Retreat, held in Beaver Creek and Vail, Colo., was aimed at letting GEP's salespeople (from 46 independent DMCs), as well as executives from GEP's sister company Krisam, a site selection firm, get to know 80 of their best clients.

Along the way, the planners learned about the destinations represented by the DMCs. In an outrageous rendition of “The Weakest Link,” orchestrated by host Steve Kemble of Steve Kemble Event Designs, eight meeting planner contestants tried to answer questions about the destinations represented. Kemble, donning an auburn wig, long black coat, shiny black pointy-toed boots, and perpetual pursed-lips, rewarded tables assigned to each “weak link” with such prizes as Milk Duds “for a dud of a performance.” In the end, Mary Hunter, from U.S. Motivation in Atlanta, won the game through shrewd strategy.

The previous day, another TV show parody, this one based on Barbara's Walters' “The View,” got planners talking about work/life issues in the meetings industry. (See page 214.)

Chris White, chairman and CEO of GEP, orchestrated the educational sessions. They were followed by a variety of recreational activities, including white-water rafting, golf, and fly fishing, with memorable themed banquets each evening.

To orchestrate the event, GEP enlisted the help of the Pines Lodge and the Inn at Beaver Creek, Vail Cascade, Sonnenalp, and the Lodge at Vail. Said GEP Operations Director Sandy Ruckstuhl, “I couldn't have built a more competent and efficient dream team than those already employed by the Vail CVB, Colorado Mountain Express transportation, and the hotel management staffs assigned to our retreat.”