The inaugural Krisam Resorts Insurance Advisory Board brought together a small group of meeting planners and hoteliers at the end of May for a frank discussion of planning and negotiation issues. "Our business is relationships," says Lil Hanson, corporate conference coordinator at Sentry Insurance in Stevens Point, Wis., who attended the weekend meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. "When you're in a small group and you've had a chance to socialize, I think everyone feels much more comfortable being candid. You know everybody and you develop a camaraderie."

Indeed, advisory board attendees had a lot of opportunities to bond outside the meeting room: Riding horses along a desert trail, learning firsthand what kind of treacherous terrain a Hummer can handle, and cruising the streets of Phoenix on the backs of Harleys were among the activities planned by Trish McSpadden, national sales manager at the Arizona Biltmore.

"You get revitalized," says Maureen Smith, FLMI, director, agency services and incentives at Business Men's Assurance Company in Kansas City, Mo. "At the end of an advisory board meeting I think, 'Okay, I've talked to someone who does what I do--now I can go back and face the world.' "

Also attending the advisory board meeting was Dennis Tucker, national sales manager, insurance, American Airlines, who talked about working with American's First Call/Meeting Services and its expanded zone fares , which can mean significant savings and do not require a Saturday-night stay. American, which provided transportation for attendees, is in the midst of a year of expansion, he said, through proposed alliances (such as those with British Airways and US Airways) and the purchase of new airplanes, which include the new Eagle regional jets.

The Krisam Group launched the board "to network in depth with select clients regarding our respective challenges," says Doris Dallow, vice president, based in the Chicago office of Krisam, a hotel marketing company. Resort properties represented at the meeting, along with the Biltmore, were: Boca Raton (Fla.) Resort & Club, Registry Resort Naples (Fla.), Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort & Country Club, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Ihilani Resort & Spa, Oahu.