Many of us, at our jobs, before we ever begin planning a meeting, sit down and develop the strategic plan. What is the objective of this program? Who is our audience? Why are we doing it? What do we want to accomplish?

The ICPA Board and staff, along with a few of our members and hospitality partners, recently spent a day together asking ourselves similar questions about ICPA. Where are we as an association? Where do we want to be? And most importantly, what three to five strategic initiatives must we accomplish in the next 12 to 36 months in order to get there?

The following four critical initiatives were identified: rebranding/marketing, membership, education, and sponsorship. Within each initiative, we developed a preliminary timeline of objectives we need to reach for us to move the association forward. This is a daunting task — one that the Board and staff, frankly, cannot handle alone. Committees will be formed to assist us in refining and ultimately achieving these initiatives.

Rebranding/Marketing

The topic of branding rose to the top of our objectives as we realized that, in order to achieve our goals, we need our members and future members to know that we are the preferred association for all insurance and financial services conference planners.

Rebranding ICPA is a critical issue that would involve significant change. It will require input from both our members and hospitality partners. The strategic team unanimously agreed that in order to move the association forward, we must revisit the name of the association. To appeal to financial services planners, we must show that we are not just an insurance association! We will be soliciting your feedback and we will conduct a member vote before any changes are made.

Membership

Simply stated, we need to strengthen membership to remain a viable, financially secure organization and to provide value to our hospitality partners by giving them business opportunities through our members. We need to identify new member prospects and retain our current membership. A membership committee is being formed to assist us in this huge task and to help develop specific, measurable goals.

Education

To attract and retain members, we must offer top-notch educational programs that appeal to new members as well as veterans, insurance planners and financial services planners, and our hospitality partners. An education committee will assist us and provide guidance to all of our programs. We also need to use technology to offer additional educational opportunities such as webinars. This will provide us the opportunity to address hot topics as they arise.

Sponsorship

We recognize that in addition to providing value to our planner members, we must provide value to the hospitality partners who support us. We need fair and equitable representation from the hospitality community. Therefore, the entire sponsorship program is being reviewed with the goal of developing a process that is fair to all, while helping ICPA remain fiscally stable. To this end, the selection process for the annual meeting, as well as the hotel chain allotment, will be re-examined, with no changes taking place before 2006.

Please Share Your Input

While I have outlined the highlights, we are developing measurable targets and desired outcomes for each initiative. As the plan is further developed, we will be posting this information on the ICPA Web site. I encourage all of our members and hospitality partners to share their input and ideas on these topics. While we acknowledge that there may be other areas needing attention, keep in mind it is necessary for us to prioritize and tackle the most significant issues first. Please forward your input to me or ICPA Executive Director Steve Bova (sbova@icpanet.com). We encourage you to get involved with these initiatives.

Best regards,

John Touchette, CMP
ICPA President
General Director, Meeting Management
John Hancock
(617) 572-6425
jtouchette@jhancock.com