THIS IS ARGUABLY the most difficult time ever for meeting and incentive planners. In the past few months, since finishing the March/April issue of Insurance Conference Planner in late February and going to press with this issue in late April, there hasn't been a minute of stability in the travel industry — or relief from worrisome world events. No sooner did the war in Iraq start winding down than the spread of SARS began to cripple international travel. Change is happening so fast that it's impossible to plan meetings with the same kind of certainty that we used to enjoy. The upheaval that this distressing reality shift has caused in our industry, and in our personal lives, is huge.

So why did I call this column “Good News”? Well, the best way to survive tough times is to focus on the positive. Think about your day, and I bet you can find many small moments of joy: a hug from someone you love, the nice feeling when you help out a colleague, the warmth of the sun on your face when you step out of your front door in the morning, the sweet sound of birds welcoming spring.

In the office, you may want to try something we do at our weekly meetings for the editorial and art staffs of ICP and our sister Meetings Group magazines. Before getting down to business, we share something good that has happened to us the previous week. Recently, I learned that one colleague had a dinner party for four generations of family to celebrate her in-laws' 61st wedding anniversary, and another became a hot-tub fan during a women's weekend retreat with her church group. Stress takes a mini-vacation during these brief interludes of sharing good news.

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Information is another tool that can help combat tough times. Knowing about the challenges facing insurance and financial services meetings — and what fellow planners are doing about them — will help you to ask the right questions and make the best choices. That's why we have case study examples in articles throughout this issue of ICP. Turn to page 40, for example, to find out why Securian Financial Network canceled a May incentive to Italy but Fortis Health moved forward with a May incentive to Monaco.

Want to learn more? Visit our newly redesigned Web site at www.meetingsnet.com to stay abreast of breaking meeting industry news with special reports on topics like the impact of war and SARS on meetings. Thanks to the efforts of indefatigable editor Sue Pelletier, this is an entirely new site: clean, easy-to-navigate, and a click away from articles on topics like affordable meetings, cost-cutting tips, law and contracts, motivation and incentives, small meetings, technology, training, and a whole lot more. If you don't see the content category you need, there's a sophisticated search engine to help. And just scroll to a tab at the top of the page to go directly to Insurance Conference Planner and the contents of our current issue.

Between ICP magazine and www.meetingsnet.com, we aim to keep our community of readers armed with information, ideas, and solutions. Let me know how we're doing. And keep me posted on your good news.