celebrated its last annual meeting as ICPA by returning to New York, the site of its very first meeting 48 years ago. The meeting has grown not only in size but in prestige and recognition, and it was marked by the presence of some incredible heavyweights representing the city's political and hospitality community, as well as the insurance and financial services industry.
Gracing the stage at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square were Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, and chairman of NYC and Company, the New York convention and visitors bureau. The Marriott's general manager, Michael J. Stengel, introduced both David Marriott and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. David, son of Bill and now head of Marriott global sales and marketing, recalled being in Times Square at the age of 12 on the spot where the Marriott was to be built. Giuliani, who helped repeal an onerous hotel sales tax when he came to office, spoke of his commitment to making Times Square safe. Cristyne Nicholas, the president and CEO of NYC and Company, also welcomed the group.
And then there was Robert Benmosche, CEO of MetLife Inc., who talked for more than an hour at the hospitality partners' session. In response to a question from the audience, he said he would cut heads before he'd cut recognition programs or meetings, and that recognition is simply the most important part of any incentive or reward program.
Providing a thread throughout was fall-down-funny Dale Irwin, the professional “summarizer,” who satirized every evening function, every speaker, even the elevators at the Marriott Marquis, at the end of each morning session. (See page 80 for more from Irwin.)