Education and networking with industry peers were top priorities for the 151 meeting planners and 317 hospitality partners who attended the 2004 ICPA Annual Meeting at the Grand Wailea in Maui, Hawaii November 14 to 18.

During an interactive audience response session at the conference, 85 percent of the planners in attendance said that the meeting met or exceeded their expectations. Eighty-nine percent said that their top reason for being involved with ICPA was networking. Education is also a top priority: When asked which area of the meeting needed to be enhanced the most, 59 percent of the planners said education.

The most popular educational sessions at the conference covered such hot-button topics as how to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the growing role of procurement in meeting planning decisions and purchasing. "The SOX seminar gave me the latest and most important information," said first-time attendee Dali Giese, manager of agency relations at Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America in Lansing, Mich. Giese joined ICPA, an association of insurance and financial services conference planners, a year ago, when she started her current job. "The meeting was so much more than I expected," she added. "I’ve learned a lot about the industry from networking."

Other news from ICPA:

John Touchette, CMP, John Hancock Financial Services, took the reigns as ICPA president, and Michael Burke, CMP, Allmerica Financial, was named president-elect. Sharon Chapman, CMP, Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Pittsfield, Mass.; and Paul Eder, CPA, CLU, ChFC, Protective Life, Birmingham, Al., were elected to the ICPA Board of Directors. Chapman will serve as vice president, education, and Eder will serve as vice president, treasurer. Pam Ferguson, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. L.L.C., and Susan Frei, Canadian Tourism Commission, joined ICPA’s Hospitality Partner Committee, and Tina Strauss, New York Marriott Marquis, was named HP Committee chairperson.

ICPA’s 2007 Annual Meeting will be held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, November 11 to 15. The Austin, Texas Hilton will be the site of the 2005 Educational Forum, July 14 to 16.

In one of the most emotional moments of the meeting, Colin Hanlon, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Maui, accepted a check from ICPA in the amount of $32,000 that was raised by a silent auction.