Speakers and Breakouts Cover Range of Meeting and Travel Topics This year's annual meeting emphasized education, starting right in with the opening keynote address from Michael Shannon, president and CEO of KSL Recreation, which owns and manages high-end resorts including La Quinta (Calif.) Resort & Club and Grand Wailea Resort & Spa on Maui. With a background in insurance and a seat on the board of directors for financial services company ING, Shannon focused his talk on current parallels between the resort industry and the insurance industry.

First of all, demographics are helping both industries: Wealth is expanding globally, and baby boomers are beginning to save (good for insurance companies) and spend (good for resorts). And the fundamental basis of the supplier/client relationship is the same in both industries: Ideally, it's a lifetime relationship built on trust. "We're all in a service business," Shannon said. "The successful ingredient is having clients trust you."

Most insurance meeting managers, he said, must focus on two sets of clients at meetings - their own se-nior executives and the independent producer attendees, all of whom think of themselves as CEOs. "These producers wake up unemployed every day," Shannon said. What motivates them is the package of compensation and incentives that insurers offer them. Those packages are critical in today's climate, making the meeting planner's job all the more challenging - as well as more important.

A Panel Spots the Trends Shannon later joined other hospitality industry experts in a panel discussion on 21st century meeting and travel trends. It's no surprise that the liveliest topic was technology.

Bob Joselyn, president and CEO of consulting firm Joselyn, Tepper & Associates in Scottsdale, questioned the usefulness of some recent technological innovations. "Too much technology is implemented for the convenience of the seller rather than the buyer," he said.

Joselyn and others on the panel tied the modern world's reliance on communications technology to a decline in service. "It behooves us to train our young charges that they can't rely only on e-mail," said Patti Roscoe, founder of San Diego-based PRA Destination Management. "They must come to meetings like this, they must learn social graces." John Alcure, senior vice president and general manager of travel company Navigant International, agreed. "We've flooded the market with technology but not trained anyone how to use it," he said. "We all get e-mails that are half-sentences from people who never meet with clients face to face. We must get this under control."

Brad Robinette, vice president, Marriott Market Management, Colorado, predicted the coming end of a cycle. "People are now evaluating what they've given up" in order to take advantage of certain technological advances, he said.

Another trend up for discussion, consolidation, was neatly summed up by Alcure: "My recommendation is to be nice to everybody," he said. "Today's competitor is tomorrow's associate."

DMCs - At Home and Abroad Several breakouts covered topics such as wired meetings, shipboard incentives, F&B trends, and secrets of the concierge. Lively discussion marked the breakout session on working with destination management companies in the U.S. and internationally. Panelists Kathy Fort Carty, founder and president, Destination Services of Colorado; Mario Caltagirone, executive vice president, Intercontinental Travel Company, Rome; Mark Kustwan, OnTheMark Events; and Tom Joyal, CMP, assistant vice president, events planning, Lutheran Brotherhood, talked about working with DMCs and responded to audience questions. For his program in Rome, Joyal said he needed Caltagirone's help just to get some hotels to respond to his inquiries. On the other hand, Kustwan said that, when possible, he prefers to do all the hotel negotiation himself internationally. "I think that's where my expertise is," Kustwan said. "And I want to keep my volume with my national sales contacts." Make no mistake, though: Kustwan noted that "without DMCs, I'd never have had the success I've had in my 16 years of planning meetings."

From the audience, Kathi Beale of Hello Florida asked how the panelists deal with hotel contracts that try to force them to use a hotel's in-house DMC. Both Joyal and Kustwan said they'd never seen such a clause and, if they did, they'd "cross it right out." New planners, there's a lesson from your elders: You're under no obligation to use a hotel's in-house vendors.

The other hot topic from the audience concerned value-added tax (VAT) refunds. These taxes are charged in most European and some Asian countries, Canada, and South America. The consensus from the panelists was that refunds occasionally are more trouble than they're worth. However, you can find companies such as Meridian VAT Reclaim that can help you. In some countries, the process is easier than in others. Hotels in Montreal, for example, will rebate your VAT right on the master bill.

Interested in other breakouts? Contact ICPA at (604) 988-2054 to purchase audiotapes.

Here are some select results from ICPA's interactive survey session:

1. Do you think the lottery system for hospitality partner registration is fair?

Yes: 68 percent No: 32 percent

2. What do you feel is the most valuable aspect of the annual meeting?

Networking: 75 percent Peer sharing: 11 percent Education: 7 percent Destination Showcase: 7 percent

(When only the planner responses were counted, "peer sharing" rose to 23 percent and "networking" dropped to 58 percent.)

3. How valuable is the Marketplace (the annual meeting's trade show)?

Extremely: 76 percent Somewhat: 24 percent Not at all: 1 percent

(Discussion of this question may lead to a change for next year's meeting: holding the Marketplace earlier in the meeting itinerary.)

4. Would you favor membership expansion to include meeting planners from financial services companies? (Respondents were planners only.)

Yes: 82 percent No: 18 percent

5. Do you attend MPI meetings, either nationally or regionally?

Planners: Yes: 27 percent No: 73 percent HPers: Yes: 62 percent No: 38 percent

6. Would you like the annual meeting program to include an Exchange session? (At past meetings, the Exchange has been a members-only discussion of planners' experiences at various meeting properties.)

Yes, as it was: 30 percent Yes, with modifications: 63 percent No: 7 percent

(Responding to a subsequent question, 89 percent of planners said the Exchange should be led by a neutral facilitator.)

For a complete list of questions and responses, call ICPA headquarters at (604) 988-2054.

After 38 years with Prudential, Joanne Gandolfo is heading off on a permanent vacation: Early this year, she's retiring and moving with her husband to Scottsdale. Gandolfo, who has been attending ICPA meetings for the past 14 years, says there are things she'll miss. "I'll definitely miss the camaraderie of ICPA. There are so many people you don't get the opportunity to talk to in a year because you're not going to their facilities, but you still need to keep in touch," she says. "At ICPA, you're able to see them and refresh those memories and relationships. The meeting is also a great tool for learning, no matter how long you've been doing this."

In her years with Prudential, Gandolfo has broken new ground, doing the company's first incentive abroad, in Rome in the late 1980s, and its first incentive with international attendees, in Hong Kong last year.

She won't be quitting cold turkey. She'll be staying on as a consultant, and is already working on a program for 2002. And she's happy to keep on networking from her new digs in Arizona - so stop by when you're on a site.

Platinum Level Austrian National Tourist Office/Vienna Convention Bureau (Austrian lunch)

Destination Services of Colorado (sponsored many events, including airport meet-and-greet, ground transportation, decor for all evening events, coordination and local sponsorship of Monday and Tuesday evening events, negotiation and management of Wednesday afternoon activities)

J&S Audio Visual (labor, equipment, tech support to PGI)

The Broadmoor (went above and beyond in terms of service and attention to detail; upgraded all food and beverage events, Wednesday evening event, provided dedicated convention services team that left nothing undone)

PGI (all on-property event production, including stage set and design, theatrical support, technical management, speaker support, and on-property evening events)

Gold Level Amelia Island Plantation (robe room amenity)

American Airlines (air passes for ICPA Board, room amenity)

Delta Air Lines (air passes for ICPA Board)

Montreal City Convention Centre/Tourism Montreal (plated lunch, room amenity)

Silver Level Beaver Creek Group Sales/Vail Valley CVB (cosponsor of World Arena event)

Bill Hopkins Productions (entertainment at World Arena)

Landry & Kling (registration refreshments, breakout breakfast)

Fairmont Hotels (buffet breakfast)

Meridia Interactive (interactive response session)

San Diego CVB (registration bags, along with Hyatt Regency San Diego, L'Auberge Del Mar, PRA, Rancho Bernardo, Loews Coronado, San Diego Paradise Point, PGI)

The DMC Network (Monday evening event)

Goodman Speakers Bureau (speaker Stacy Allison)

World Arena (cosponsor of World Arena event)

Worldwide Cruise Associates (marketplace reception, sponsored along with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Radisson Seven Seas, Holland America, Peter Deilmann EuropAmerica Cruises, and American Classic Voyages)

Bronze Level Air Canada (part sponsor of Montreal lunch)

Atlantis-Paradise Island Resort/Nassau, Paradise Island Promotion Board (refreshments)

Austria, Belgium, Germany & Switzerland Group (travel clock room amenity)

Canadian Tourism Commission (speaker Dr. Allen Holmes)

Colorado Springs CVB (cosponsored Flash Cadillac)

Fiesta Americana Hotels (breakfast)

French Government Tourist Office (breakout breakfast)

Hilton Hotels (bottled water nightly room amenity)

Hotel del Coronado (part sponsor of Wednesday activities)

Inverness Hotel (part sponsor of World Arena event)

JPdL DMC (backpack totes and lunch)

Krisam Group (planner-only refreshment break)

LaFayette Travel (breakout breakfast)

Las Vegas CVB (breakfast)

Mandalay Bay Resort; Group Services Inc.; Newport Beach Calif. CVB; Palace Resorts; Resort at Squaw Creek; Rocky Mountain Connections (photo directory ads)

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (cosponsor of Flash Cadillac)

Opryland Hotel Florida (refreshment break, with Hello Florida and Kissimmee CVB)

Quebec City Convention Centre/Quebec City CVB/Tourism Quebec (part sponsors, Montreal lunch)

Starwood Hotels (registration sweatshirt)

Steamboat Summit Grand (cosponsor, World Arena event)

Monaco Team (porcelain room amenity)

The Cloister/The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club (breakout breakfast)

Walt Disney World Resorts/Disney Cruise Line (marketplace refreshments)

WMG-Pacific World/Spectra (hole-in-one golf prize, beverage cart)

Wyndham Hotels (golf tournament)

Patron Level Anaheim/Orange County CVB (photo directory ad)

Hinton & Grusich (Wednesday entertainment: Jill Carr)

Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek (part sponsor, World Arena)