Global Events Partners' 3rd Annual Executive Retreat, held June 6 to 10 in Beaver Creek and Vail, Colo., combined GEP salespeople with 80 of their meeting planner clients for a mixture of business, networking, and fun.

GEP, a network of destination management companies (46 independently owned and operated DMCs all over the world), and GEP sister company Krisam, a site selection firm, put their own meeting planning talents to use to create a very special event. Particularly challenging was running morning educational sessions, afternoon recreational activities (white-water rafting, golf, fly-fishing), and memorable themed banquets each evening, in two exclusive mountain communities and 11 five-star hotels and properties.

GEP enlisted the help of the Pines Lodge and the Inn at Beaver Creek; the Vail Cascade, Sonnenalp; and the Lodge at Vail. According to GEP Operations Director Sandy Ruckstuhl, “I couldn't have built a more competent and efficient dream team than those already employed by the Vail CVB, Colorado Mountain Express transportation, and the hotel management staffs assigned to our retreat.”

Two of the educational sessions made learning fun as parodies of current hit TV shows: “The View,” which got planners to talk about work/life balance issues in the meetings industry, and an outrageous rendition of “The Weakest Link.” Hilariously orchestrated by host Steve Kemble of Steve Kemble Event Designs, the eight meeting planner contestants who bravely volunteered tried to answer questions based on the destinations represented by GEP partners. Kemble, donning an auburn wig, long black coat, black patent pointy boots, and a perpetual pursed lip, sour-lemon sucking expression, rewarded tables assigned to each “weak link” with such prizes as Milk Duds “for the dud of a performance” their contestant just gave. In the end, audience members shouted answers — right or wrong — to the finalists until Mary Hunter, from U.S. Motivation in Atlanta, won the game through shrewd strategy and accurate answers.