SNOWY WEATHER did not deter a record 37 planners and 18 hospitality partners from attending ICPA's Northeast winter meeting January 6 to 8 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel in Boston. Gleaming from a head-to-toe renovation, the hotel's grand historic spaces provided an elegant backdrop for an intensive educational program — and a cozy respite from the winter chill. Many participants got the chance to experience the hotel's new “Fairmont Gold” floor, with extra amenities and service.

After shaking off the snow and taking a hotel tour with Platinum Sponsor Isabel Mahon, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; and Fairmont Copley representatives, attendees met the first evening for dinner, entertainment, and the animated networking for which ICPA is known. The next morning, ICPA President John Touchette, John Hancock, and ICPA Executive Director Steve Bova filled the group in on association news and initiatives. They were followed by a fun and eye-opening teambuilding exercise led by Leapfrog Innovations that, in a very short time, taught participants the importance of listening and communicating.

Two education sessions focused on the issue of procurement and the pros and cons of standardized contracts. While only a handful of planners in the room said they currently work with their company's procurement department, it is clearly a growing issue for the industry. It is essential, said panelists Pat Jaworski, Sun Life Financial, and Rob Gingras, CIGNA, for planners to understand and demonstrate their company's total meeting and business travel spend.

Among other meeting highlights: Alan Krensky, Colpitts Travel, on “The State of the Airline Industry”; Ruth Sherman (courtesy of Platinum Sponsor Diane Goodman, Goodman Speakers Bureau) on “How to Persuade Anyone of Anything;” and Joseph Durocher, associate professor of hospitality management at the University of New Hampshire, on pairing food and wine. Topping off the busy day was a fabulous dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston hosted by Platinum Sponsor June Locke, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Regina Baraban