Meeting in June at the lushly landscaped, Mediterranean-style Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, convenient to both Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Krisam Insurance Advisory Board brought together 12 high-level insurance and financial services meeting planners with sales execs from 10 Krisam-represented resorts around the country to network and discuss industry issues.
Doris Dallow, vice president of the Krisam Group, doesnâ€™t beat around the bush when she moderates the KRIAB business sessions. Having polled the participants about hot-button issues prior to the meeting, she encouraged the group to share opinions and war stories on everything from the airline situation (unstable fares and routes coupled with lack of service are driving planners bonkers), to communication challenges between hotels and planners. (Planners want relevant information, but theyâ€™re getting deluged.)
Overall, planners echoed the mantra of the "new normal" of meeting planning: doing more with less. "We havenâ€™t canceled any meetings, but weâ€™re doing more with fewer staff members," said Karyn Evans, CMP, CMM, manager, meeting and event services, Allianz Life, Minneapolis. Julie Kane, director of program development/incentives for Colonial Life, Columbia, S.C., also hasnâ€™t seen a slowdown in company meetings or incentive programs, but her department is taking on added responsibilities for employee recognition events. Michael Burke, conference and travel consultant, Allmerica Financial, noted a trend of more regional property and casualty incentives.
The most controversial collateral was a 30-page request for proposal that had been part of a blanket mailing to at least 50 hotels in the Southeast. As an initial site selection tool, everyone agreed it was ridiculous. But the discussions opened the door to a bigger issue: Tools like detailed RFPs are part of corporate best practicesâ€”practices that planners canâ€™t ignore if they are to be taken seriously as management professionals. The upshot? "Weâ€™re no longer a handshake business," opined one planner regretfully.
The 395-room Turnberry Isle & Clubâ€”managed by Mandarin Oriental International Ltd.â€”wowed the KRIAB participants with facilities that include two Robert Trent Jones Sr.â€“designed golf courses and a luxurious, 25,000-square-foot spa and fitness center that opened in July 2001. Tucked away in a gardenerâ€™s paradise of exotic flora and fauna, Turnberry is also just five minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, where the resort has a private Ocean Club. Guest rooms are very spacious, with terra-cotta floors, hardwood furnishings, and oriental rugs that complement the Mediterranean style of the architecture.
Two standout evening activities were a sunset dinner cruise on South Floridaâ€™s Intracoastal Waterway on an exquisite luxury yachtâ€”one of three in the Windridge Yacht charter fleetâ€”and a final "Glitz and Glam" gala at the resort, with fabulous dĂ©cor and entertainment by Deco Productions, Swank Audio Visual, and Advantage Destination. Transportation was provided by American Airlines and Aventura Limousine. â€”Regina Baraban
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