Projecting the impression of an industry that is healthy, busy, and focused on education, around 650 meeting planners and hospitality partners gathered at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio November 13–16 for the 2011 Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference.Chair Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, encouraged attendees to “remain steadfast” in leveraging their partnerships with each other—something that was more important than ever when companies began canceling conferences in 2009. FICP’s close-knit community was a port in that storm.
“I was introduced to FICP 13 years ago,” said Zint, vice president, meetings and event strategy, at NFP in Austin, Texas. “The professional education has elevated me to where I am today.” About 100 first-time attendees got a taste of what FICP has to offer. FICP hopes that some first-timers who are not yet members will join the association, continuing the successful membership drive of 2011, which resulted in 130 new members, bringing total membership above 500.
Technology is one of FICP’s strategic priorities, and new initiatives were launched at the 2011 conference. A Technology Showcase brought vendors together to demo their products; this effort will be expanded next year. Building on a few tweets in 2010, Twitter really took off in Texas, anchored by a couple of stalwarts (we’re looking at you, @Padraicino) and plenty of newbies. Sam Stanton of redbutton.tv, which scrolled Twitter feeds on venue screens and staffed a “buzz lounge” to teach attendees about , says 100 unique tweeters sent more than 600 tweets during the first two days of the meeting.
The 2011 FICP Annual Conference was the first for Kelly Kellin, CMP, meeting and event manager, U.S. Bancorp Equipment Finance in Richfield, Minn. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:
“The keynote speakers were amazing. I laughed and cried and was left wanting more. I would definitely consider, and recommend, these speakers for other groups," Kellin says. "The conference offered many quality breakout sessions, making it difficult to decide which to attend. I walked away with a lot of valuable information. I found the most value in the networking opportunities at the conference. I was able to meet with others within the industry and discuss best practices as well as industry trends.”