Taking “make learning fun” to heart, Global Events Partners, a network of destination management companies from all over the world, hosted 80 meeting and incentive planners in June for three days of education, networking, and just plain fun.

GEP's 3rd Annual Executive Retreat, held in Beaver Creek and Vail, Colo., was aimed at letting GEP's salespeople (from 46 independently owned and operated DMCs all over the world), as well as executives from GEP's sister company Krisam, a site selection firm, get to know the needs of some of their best clients.

Along the way, the meeting planners learned about the destinations represented by the DMCs, often in an entertaining way. In an outrageous rendition of “The Weakest Link” orchestrated by host Steve Kemble of Steve Kemble Event Designs, the eight meeting planner contestants tried to answer questions based on the destinations represented by GEP partners

Kemble, donning an auburn wig, a long black coat, shiny black pointed-toe boots, and a perpetual pursed lip, sour-lemon-sucking expression, rewarded tables assigned to each “weak link” with Milk Duds for “a dud of a performance.” In the end, audience members shouted answers — right or wrong — to the finalists until Mary Hunter, from U.S. Motivation in Atlanta, won the game.

The previous day, another TV show parody, this one based on Barbara's Walter's “The View,” got planners to talk about work/life balance issues in the meetings industry. It was hosted by Betsy Bair, editorial director, CMI. Chris White, chairman & CEO of GEP, orchestrated the educational sessions.

The morning educational sessions were followed by a variety of afternoon recreational activities, including white water rafting, golf, and fly fishing, and memorable themed banquets each evening.

The Retreat's planners found the program particularly challenging because the events took place among two mountain communities and 11 five-star hotels and properties. GEP enlisted the help of the Pines Lodge and the Inn at Beaver Creek, Vail Cascade, Sonnenalp, and the Lodge at Vail. According to GEP Operations Director, Sandy Ruckstuhl, “I couldn't have built a more competent and efficient dream team than those already employed by the Vail CVB, Colorado Mountain Express transportation, and the hotel management staffs assigned to our Retreat.”