Two months after September 11, the Insurance Conference Planners Association drew a record turnout of nearly 200 insurance and financial services meeting planners and 285 industry suppliers for its annual meeting, held at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, from November 11 to 15.
The overall mood of the meeting was cautiously optimistic. Planners reported that their companies' meeting and incentive programs are still on track for 2002 and beyond, although some are re-thinking international meetings. “In the middle of negotiating for Spain in 2003, we decided to change to an Alaskan cruise,” said Robin Hulsey, assistant vice president, administrative services, National Western Life, Austin, Texas.
While leads for its New York City properties were scarce, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts got at least four solid leads at ICPA's tabletop tradeshow, said Jennifer Chapin, New York-based national sales manager. One of those was a canceled European program that rebooked in Boston. Chapin also reported that Fairmont properties in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Vancouver, B.C.; and Bermuda got a lot of interest from planners. She expects Fairmont's New York properties to get much of their near-term group business from New York area companies that are pulling their meetings from elsewhere in order to support the city.
Planners and suppliers cited the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico as prime meeting and incentive destinations post-9/11. “We have not canceled our 2002 incentive program to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico,” said Alison Barnes, administrative coordinator, Allstate Insurance Co., Irving, Texas.
In a planners-only session, participants were evenly split when asked about whether or not they had postponed plans for meetings in international destinations, reported Karen Hopkinson, ICPA executive director. “Planners were looking to each other for ideas on things like venues, speakers, and entertainment for future meetings,” she added. “I got the feeling that they think it's time to move on.”