Challenged by the dire economy and concerned about perception issues surrounding their meetings and incentive programs, the 600-plus attendees who gathered at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun for the 51st Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference in November exemplified the message they're trying to bring to Corporate America: Face-to-face meetings with colleagues and business partners are among the best ways to regroup, retool, and strategically move forward.

Outgoing FICP President Patricia Kerr, CMP, addressed the perception issue at the opening of the conference. “I cringe at the reports of irresponsible corporate spending, especially during times of such market volatility. But I'm equally concerned that the role of meetings, conferences, and incentive programs is being misrepresented,” she said. “I pride myself on producing meetings that generate strategic business results. So today it is more important than ever that we emphasize to our management and general business partners the importance of not making sweeping generalizations about the meeting and incentive business.” Kerr went on to encourage her fellow planners to be creative and to share ideas and strategies.

On the closing day of the conference, newly elected FICP President Cindy Wheaton, CMP, echoed Kerr's call to action. “It is clear that each of us has to work smarter. We have to work more creatively, be more productive, and we must continue to bring real value to our companies,” she said. “This is where FICP steps in with education and resources, as well as with connections to the best and the brightest in the industry, both on the planner and the hospitality partner side. We all need to leverage these opportunities on a daily basis.”

Program Highlights

The agenda featured 35 speakers in general sessions and breakouts on topics that ranged from contingency planning to contract issues to managing multiple generations. Workshops were organized in tracks based on experience levels, and PowerPoint presentations were included on a flash drive that was provided with registration materials. (The presentations are also available to FICP members at Among the networking opportunities was FICP's traditional tabletop marketplace, held at the Cancun convention center across the street from the host hotel.

For the second year, attendees wore nTAG interactive name badges to streamline contact information exchange and networking, and nTAG was also used for a live survey that addressed the current economic crisis (see pages 12 and 16 in this issue; members can go to for results from the entire survey).

In other news, it was announced that FICP's 2011 Annual Conference will be held at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Texas. The Sheraton Centre Toronto will host FICP's 2009 Annual Conference (see sidebar at left), and FICP's 2010 Annual Conference will take place at the Fontainebleau Miami.

New Board and HPC Members

Patricia Kerr, CMP, Manulife Financial, passed the 2008 president's gavel to Cindy Wheaton, CMP, Nationwide Financial Network, whose presidency runs through the 2009 annual conference in Toronto. Kerr continues on the board as past president and 2009 conference chair. Dan Young, CMP, CLU, ChFC, LLIF, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, was named president-elect. Also continuing on the board for 2009 are Kim Boriin, CMP, Guardian Investor Services LLC, vice president, education; Nancy Farmer, CMP, The Hanover Insurance Group, vice president, sponsorship; Jan Hennessey, CMP, CMM, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., vice president, communications; and Morgan Murphy, CMP, Bankers Life and Casualty Co., vice president, finance.

Kelli L. Livers, CMP, AIG, and Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, NFP Insurance Services, were elected to the board to fill the seats vacated by Karyn Rizzo, CMP, Sun Life; and Sharon Chapman, CMP, CMM, Berkshire Life, whose board terms expired. Livers will serve as vice president, membership, while Zint becomes vice president, chapters.

In FICP Hospitality Partner Committee news, Jeff Gloeb, CMP, Wynn Las Vegas, was named 2009 chairman of the HPC. The HPC welcomed two new members: Kathy Fort Carty, CMP, Destination Services Corp.; and Dan Tavrytzky, Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. Leaving the HPC was Patrick Sullivan, PRA Destination Management New York. Continuing on the committee are Jessica Phillips, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts; Brent Centlivre, Disney Resort Destinations; Jack Gage, CMP, The Broadmoor; and Bill Hopkins, Hopkins Entertainment.

Sidebar: Members and Nonmembers: Renew or Join Today!

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Sidebar: FICP Heads to Toronto in 2009

Mark your calendar now for the 2009 FICP Annual Conference, November 15-19, in one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in North America: Toronto. The conference theme is Northern Exposure … Unlimited Opportunities, and the design committee, chaired by FICP immediate past president Patricia Kerr, is already hard at work developing a not-to-be-missed education and networking agenda. The centrally located host hotel, The Sheraton Centre Toronto, is gleaming from a recent renovation that included a redesign of the lobby, public areas, meeting space, and the Sheraton Club Lounge. Seen here is the convivial lobby, a 21st century gathering place featuring the new Link@Sheraton with free Wi-Fi and PC workstations. The innovative design is anchored by a large communal table, comfy seating, and views of an outdoor waterfall.