A BACKPACK WITH special amenities and a visit from Shrek are among the treats in store for kids at Jefferson Pilot Financial's annual incentive convention at Loews Portofino Bay near Universal Studios in Orlando in April. The Greensboro, N.C.-based financial services company has always allowed kids on domestic incentive programs, and for the past few years it has deliberately chosen family-friendly destinations and introduced more formal activities for qualifiers' families. Now, JPF is launching a program for kids under 18 called the JP Club.

“You have your top producers [traveling to an incentive program] and if they're able to bring their children, it provides them some peace and satisfaction that their family is being looked after,” says Richard Gladson, JPF assistant vice president of marketing events and incentives.

Instead of simply scheduling alternative entertainment to keep kids happy during awards ceremonies, attendees can purchase partial or full JP Club packages that include transfers, an extra guest room, meals, visits to theme parks, and other goodies. Families pay JPF's cost or slightly below.

The new JP Club logo will be introduced at the 2004 incentive in Orlando. “We thought branding [the children's program] would create a culture around it,” says Gladson.

One of the challenges is to come up with activities that will engage teens as well as toddlers, Gladson notes. For the 2003 conference at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, Calif., JPF arranged a final night for the entire family with trumpet player Chris Botti and circus performers — all under a big tent. In this case, entertainment covered the bases for all age groups. Bottom line: “We try to make it as fun as possible for our teen guests so they feel they're included, and that seems to work,” says Dale Lunsford, JPF meeting planner.

JPF will offer the JP Club to participants in its two yearly incentive programs: the convention, which typically has about 900 qualifiers and guests and 150 children; and the Elite Escape, an incentive for top securities producers, with about 180 qualifiers and guests and 40 children.

The Jefferson Pilot Financial Summit, held for the top producers in JPF life insurance sales in an overseas location every 18 months, will remain as an adults-only event, however.

“We were in Venice one year and had a function on the rooftop at the Guggenheim,” says Gladson. It would be difficult to think about having a two-year-old there.”