Ever since returning from the Krisam Insurance Advisory Board meeting, June 2 to 5 at the lovely Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston, S.C., I’ve been thinking about what makes a great meeting. Our group of 11 planners, six hoteliers, and two Krisam Group hosts--president Jim Schultenover and vice president Doris Dallow-- left the meeting "on a high," as one attendee said. As for me, I walked away invigorated, with more energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge than I came with.

The format of our business meetings was simple: We met in a conference room large enough so that people weren’t scrunched together, and talked for nearly four hours. There were no PowerPoint presentations or guest speakers. With such a small group, each person had a chance to share thoughts about the challenges they face daily, and, as moderator, Schultenover kept the conversation moving and the issue-oriented agenda on track. There was lots of interaction, but there were no lengthy diatribes. Schultenover also did an excellent job summarizing key points before moving on to the next topic.

The cordial and open atmosphere encouraged everyone to speak frankly, and budget cutbacks were high on everyone’s list. "I’m getting to the point where I can’t do more for less. Just tell me which meal to cut," complained one planner, echoing group sentiment.

Tight budgets aside, it was clear that the planners, who represented a cross-section of insurance and financial services firms, all managed their meetings quite differently. "Everyone is wearing lots of hats, and responsibilities have expanded way beyond getting people from point A to point B," summarized Schultenover.

Hotel representation firm Krisam Group will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in January. It had a record year in 2004, generating $81 million in room revenue for its member hotels. "We’ve seen a lot of growth in the number of small programs," noted Schultenover. For more information, click here.