KRIAB 2012 brought together a group of experienced meeting planners from the insurance and financial services industry with hoteliers representing properties in the Krisam Group portfolio to discuss trends on both sides of the aisle, review hot-button issues, and get some hands-on time with iPads and apps.

Krisam Group President Jim Schultenover and Director of Sales Laurel Rhoads McCarthy led the event, Krisam’s 14th annual advisory board meeting for the insurance and financial industry. The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Ariz., played elegant host to the group. (Read about the exclusive resort, nestled into the northern slope of Camelback Mountain, in our On Location report.)

A willingness to address any and all issues was again the hallmark of the event. “I think there are two key reasons for the loyalty to KRIAB by some very senior people,” Schultenover says. “First is the ‘human scale’ of the advisory board. This impacts everyone in that we can cover big picture trends, but also dive into the details of an individual’s needs. The second is that the ‘advisory’ is a collective advisory, not just for Krisam Group/GEP. What I mean by that is the agenda is driven for, and by, the attendees. And because of the relationships that have been developed, the dialogue continues throughout the year.”

For Koleen Roach of Securian Financial Group, Chair of Financial & Insurance Conference Planners, KRIAB is on her must-attend list of annual events. “What I love most about this particular gathering of planners and hospitality partners is the caliber of planners who participate, the quality of the properties and sales managers represented, and the working environment Krisam Group works so passionately to create for us to do business in those few days.

“I always walk away with a new tool, resource, or idea to take back to my team. I also greatly appreciate the smaller, more intimate size of the group as it allows planners and sales associates to truly get to know each other. Each year I meet someone new and at the same time strengthen existing relationships.”

On that score, first-timers find they are quickly welcomed into the group. “I did not know what to expect,” says Maggie Johnston of Assurex Global in Dublin, Ohio, attending her first KRIAB. “I left the weekend energized and ready to take back all that I learned to my office. The opportunity to network with insurance industry meeting planners in such a small group setting was very valuable.”

On the other end of the spectrum, James Wolfe, CMP, of NCCI in Boca Raton, Fla., has attended all but one or two of the KRIAB meetings. “First of all, I’m flattered to be invited,” he says. “When I look around the room and gauge the talent and expertise present, I’m awestruck. And not just for the planners. The suppliers have as much, if not more, experience that they freely share. Many of them have seen both the ‘up’ and ‘down’ market swings.”

While no one seemed ready to say the economy had fully recovered, there was also a noticeable absence of “doom and gloom” around the table this year. In Wolfe’s view: “My take on the pulse of the group is that folks are feeling more positive about the recovery. No one is shouting, ‘Hooray it’s over,’ but there is a cautious optimism. And all the while the downturn has been going on, what I’ve continued to hear from hoteliers at the Krisam function is what they have done to improve their product, their service, their delivery… When the market comes back, which it seems to be doing, they’ll be ready.”