In the big picture, meeting and incentive planners can't control much. They can't control terrorism, viral outbreaks, or the global economy. They can't control how their senior management and attendees — and attendees' spouses — react emotionally to a particular meeting destination or to stepping onto an airplane.

But meeting executives should remember the things that they can control, and two of the stories in this issue really bring that point home to me. In our cover feature, we deliver the content of a CMI roundtable discussion held in late April with five corporate planners and incentive house executives to discuss trends affecting their programs. Cancellations, postponements, fearful spouses, and other challenges peppered the conversation.

But while they are buffeted by external events, several of the planners expressed a strong confidence in their programs. Although not every travel incentive will go on, their programs had good reasons to go on, and the planners were prepared to explain exactly why. They are building programs with well-thought-through objectives and ways to measure the return on investment of those programs. Effectively designing an incentive program as a strategic tool — not just a vacation — is where planners stand tall. They can't control much, but they can be darn certain that every penny earmarked for an incentive has a business purpose. And as Patty Sabo, travel buyer for Carlson Marketing Group in Minneapolis, said, “in doing so, you can provide a kind of insulation from budget cuts because [you] are showing the value that trip provides.”

And while recent events have made cancellations and posponements unavoidable for many companies, another factor that meeting executives can control is the way that they react to those changes. In our story “How to Unplan a Meeting,” event pro Jennifer Goodwin reminds us that cancellations are “an outstanding opportunity to show our professionalism. We must be able to unravel our fine tapestry with the same precision and professional attitude that allowed us to weave it in the first place.” Read her tips for making the best of a bad situation, starting on page 25.

And finally, best wishes to CMI editor Barbara Scofidio, who is enjoying maternity leave after the birth of her son, Kieran, in late April. Congratulations, Barb!

CMI welcomes letters

We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. Please send comments to Executive Editor Susan Hatch at shatch@primediabusiness.com.