If you weren’t among the 150 attendees at the 2010 Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Education Forum in St. Louis June 16–18, here are a dozen informational nuggets straight from the general session stage and the breakout-room round tables:

1. Your annual incentive program is like Walt Disney World: Both are in the midst of a continuous improvement process. You, like the folks at Disney, begin that process by listening to your participants and measuring their satisfaction. Then you act on the information, make changes to your program, and measure satisfaction again, so you can be sure you are maintaining their beloved experiences while offering something new. Then celebrate your success—but keep the process going. “We’re competing with perfect memories. We can never rest on our laurels.”
—Austin Brock, Business Programs Facilitator, Disney Institute

2. In the agricultural age, the speed of change was so slow it was barely noticeable. Now, the speed of change has accelerated so much that it has become part of our environment. Change is constant. We will look back on this period and say, “This is when humanity created a new consciousness.”
—David Houle, Futurist and author of “The Shift Age”

3. If you’re considering a community service project during your next conference, ask your destination management company for help, then publicize its involvement and you might get yourself a discount, such as your transportation at net cost.
—Tracey Brenneman, Global Sales Manager, PRA Destination Management

4. Make training exciting, not boring. Have attendees learn about your new products by means of a “Jeopardy”-style game. It’s fun, competitive, inexpensive, and gets the job done.
—Lynne Coyne, Conference Consultant, Manulife Financial

5. In January 2009, there were 42 million Facebook users in the United States. In January 2010, there were 103 million. To create a successful Facebook page for your company, give users who “like” your page a little something for their loyalty. It could be a discount, some piece of news that they’ll be the first to know, or a game.
—Bob Rybarczyk, Vice President, Weber Shandwick

6. Do you have a love/hate relationship with Excel? Did you know you can create a chart by highlighting your data and hitting a single key: the F11? Did you know you can create custom lists, such as the months of the year or your senior executives’ names, that can auto fill cells? Did you know that pressing Ctrl–PgUp/PgDn lets you scroll between worksheets? These tips are the tip of the iceberg. E-mail Jim Spellos (jspellos@meeting-u.com) and ask him to send you his Excel handouts, with hot tips that range from beginner to advanced, and let the time-saving begin.
—James Spellos, CMP, President, Meeting U

7. “Conflict is awesome. It leads to the biggest growth and opportunity. As a leader, you create the boundaries for how people behave when there is conflict. Practice on small ones.”
—Amilya Antonetti, entrepreneur and founder of Soapworks

8. In your office, do you have that drawer or closet where all the junk ends up? Go open those closet doors and take out all the old props. Figure out what you already have that you aren’t using, and use it in a new way.
—Austin Brock, Business Programs Facilitator, Disney Institute

9. The growth of Twitter is slowing, but there are still 64 million tweets every day, and 20 percent of all tweets contain a reference to a brand or product. Find and follow influencers and advocates to gauge sentiment on your brand.
—Meredith Brengle, Digital Communications Supervisor, Weber Shandwick

10. People are looking for more casual and relaxed events. How about an afternoon by the pool with light food and beverage and your senior executives acting as hosts? It’s inexpensive but makes a big impact.
—Lynne Coyne, Conference Consultant, Manulife Financial

11. Try a walking progressive dinearound: Attendees have appetizers at one restaurant, walk to another for the main course, and then to a third for dessert. It shows them the city, a variety of cuisines, and you save the cost of transportation.
—Elena Mastrogiuseppe, Manager, Corporate Market, Tourisme Montréal

12. This is the business case for corporate social responsibility: It attracts and retains employees, boosts your reputation and strengthens your brand, gets you access to capital, increases customer trust and loyalty, reduces operating costs, and can help enable license-to-operate requests and deter regulation.
—Sandra Taylor, CEO, Sustainable Business International