A few years ago, I attended a lengthy and heavily produced event called “The Power of Meetings.” It was a big bash with some interesting moments, but it ultimately put the audience to sleep. Pretty ironic, considering the theme.
In contrast, I couldn't stop thinking about the power of meetings after attending the Insurance Conference Planners Association Annual Forum in July — a small educational conference that left attendees feeling energized and enthusiastic about time well-spent.
What made the Forum interaction especially productive was an evenly divided group of veteran and newbie planners from across the country who came to learn from each other, and a collegial atmosphere that encouraged chats with strangers — who subsequently became friends. People left the meeting armed not only with information and ideas, but with new contacts to call when they needed advice from peers faced with similar business challenges.
When I think about what made this a great meeting, I keep coming back to the same theme: people connecting with people. It sounds simplistic, but I believe that for many of us one of the most enduring lessons of the past year has been the value of relationships, both personal and professional. Nurturing these relationships at meetings like the ICPA Forum is what keeps our industry, and ourselves, moving forward.
It was also great to listen to insurance and financial services planners talk about what was on their minds. Technology — particularly how to harness it to make the meeting planning process more efficient — was a hot hallway topic. In our cover story this month (page 46), Alison Hall gets behind the scenes with the meeting planners, database manager, and software consultant at New York Life to find out how a complex software program automated a well-entrenched meeting planning process — and helped the department capture a lot more buying power.
Another topic discussed at the Forum (see pages 42 and 44) was how to motivate top producers. What kinds of experiences will keep repeat qualifiers — who have already “been there, done that” — loyal and productive? How about swimming with the manta rays in Bora Bora, or chatting with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck after dining at one of his restaurants? Turn to our second annual “UltimateIdea Guide” on page 69 to find out more. And for a first-hand report on how to motivate with spa incentives, see page 78.
Enjoy the issue.