Morgan Murphy, cmp FICP Vice President, Finance, Morgan Murphy, CMP, is director, meetings and media services, Bankers Life and Casualty Co., Chicago. He joined FICP in 1996 and was nominated to the board of directors in 2006. He talked with us recently about how members can effectively manage the challenging year ahead.
Q: Earlier in your career, you worked on the hotel side. How did that help you as a meeting planner?
A: It gave me insight into how hotels work from a back-of-the-house perspective, and what needs to happen for different areas such as reservations and convention services to work efficiently. I also gained an appreciation of what happens when last-minute changes are made, and what the hotels go through to get those changes implemented.
FICP members are clearly in unprecedented and difficult times. What is your advice on how to weather the economic storm?
Continue to show value to management. Cut costs where possible and show the savings. Demonstrating these values to senior management helps to demonstrate our own value, beyond logistics. We understand how our meetings affect the company's bottom line and we want to help minimize spend where possible. Using our relationships with hospitality partners will help us to do this — and will also help bring the best possible program to our attendees.
How would you counsel FICP members to best prove the value of their incentive meetings at a time when the mainstream media is lambasting some as politically incorrect?
People want to get together with their peers and be recognized, share sales tips, and be motivated. When they go back to their offices and tell those who did not attend what they experienced, that word of mouth “advertising” helps to create excitement and motivates people to want to attend future meetings. That motivation helps to increase sales, which is a key component in helping to improve the company's overall results — in turn leading to a more stable company that is better for all stakeholders.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges to financial and insurance conference planners in the year ahead?
Staying positive as best you can in this environment. With the many changes happening within the industry and the overall economy, it's tough to see many positives. As always, trying to improve on prior meeting experiences with reduced budgets will be tough, but partnering with your hospitality partners will be very important. Look to find savings in every aspect of the meeting.
What aspects of meetings management do you find the most satisfying?
Seeing all the hard work our team puts into a successful meeting. When the attendees leave telling us that they had a great time, it means a lot — it motivates us to try our best to create another great experience for the next meeting.
What has membership in FICP meant to you?
FICP has meant a lot to me over the years — especially the chance to meet other planners who are experiencing the same challenges and opportunities. The FICP network enables us to share solutions with each other, and to bring back new ideas to our companies that will make our meetings better.
Where do you believe FICP should put its focus movingforward?
As always, education and an exchange of ideas should be the focus of FICP. Our work environment is constantly changing. Having an association that specializes in education for our industry is a great tool for financial and insurance conference planners.