It was 1989 when then-publisher Dean Laux, president of The Laux Co., bought Insurance Conference Planner from George Lowden, owner of Bayard Publications, Stamford, Conn. (He purchased ICP along with Convention World, which was to become Association Meetings; and the Religious Conference Management Association's newsletter, which we turned into a magazine). We already published Medical Meetings, so with the addition of ICP and the others, we became the niched publisher in the meetings trades (adding Corporate Meetings & Incentives in 1991).

I have many fond memories of those early days, but I'll never forget the first Insurance Conference Planners Association meeting I attended in 1989 at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, just three weeks after the San Francisco earthquake. I still wear the T-shirt from that meeting (see photo at right), when Hotel Sales and Management Association International members were ICPA's “Hospitality Partners.” Not only did we romp through the city on an amazing scavenger hunt, where we witnessed firsthand the fresh cracks in the highway overhead passes, but I rank the 1960s theme party on the final night among the best events I've ever attended. Typically buttoned-up insurance execs sat in a Volkswagen bus in the middle of the ballroom in their long-haired wigs and tie-die T-shirts and grooved to the tunes of Jimi Hendrix. Man, I thought, what have I been missing!?

The meeting was also my introduction to why a good destination management company is critical to making an event or incentive program memorable. The San Francisco — based DMC, Safaris, put on both the hunt and the party. Peggy Campbell, who now works for a sports marketing and event company in Colorado Springs, and Kathy Papadimitriou (KP, to all who know her), an executive with PGI, the company that bought Safaris, are still wowing executives with events.

An Industry Evolves

Just as teambuilding events and theme parties have changed with the times, so has the job of the insurance conference planning executive. In fact, meeting planning is a microcosm of Corporate America: mergers and acquisitions come and go, regulations change and intensify, meeting planning departments centralize and decentralize. But the fact that most insurance and financial services companies maintain full-time meeting planners says a lot about how your role has evolved and how professional you've become. You now advise your CEOs or procurement officers on a whole range of matters, from technology to contract negotiations to regulations, as it pertains to communicating with, training, and motivating sales forces.

I am proud of our magazine's continuing association with ICPA, an Association of Insurance and Financial Services Conference Planners, and pleased that, in tandem with the association, we are changing our name and expanding our reach to encompass all financial services meeting planners.

But perhaps I am most proud of ICP's editors, pictured on this page, two of whom have led and left for a variety of reasons, but have stayed connected to this magazine group and sector. These three women are among the finest editors in our industry.

Hope you enjoy reading this special issue.