"The way we create memories at an incentive conference in Hawaii is not to put on a luau," said Rich Granger, assistant vice president, conference and travel services, Allmerica Financial, Worcester, Mass. "Instead, we look to our DMC [destination management company] for something more creative." Granger spoke during an educational session at the Global Events Partners (GEP) Executive Retreat, held in June at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. The event brought together more than 100 planners and DMC representatives.

Many meeting professionals at the event said they look to DMCs for out-of-the-box ideas. "I want to do things neither of us has done before, or re-package things in ways that haven't been tried," said Kathleen Moore, vice president and global event manager for Chase Treasury Solutions, a division of The Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. "That's fun for everyone, and it creates partnerships, not vendor-client relationships."

Among the issues addressed at the retreat: tighter budgets but higher program expectations, seismic shifts in the hotel industry, and new meeting planning technologies. The biggest technology challenge, said Mark Jarrell, presi- dent, the Meeting Architects, San Francisco, is a basic one: smoothly transferring information between planner, hotel, and DMC. "The ability to use technology to transfer information will drastically cut down our time and our collective expenses," he said.

Along those lines, GEP announced a new feature at its Web site (www.global eventspartners.com). Use the site to send an RFP to any of GEP's 42 partner DMCs, and they'll post a proposal on your page on the site. You're thus able to build a personal library of RFPs and proposals for comparison shopping and historical data.

Washington, D.C.-based Global Events Partners is a growing consortium of domestic and international DMCs that meet certain performance standards.