Insurance Industry Professionals Discuss Business in Post Recession Times

Krisam Group Insurance Advisory Board Conference reveals the meetings industry is recovering, but with new norms. 

“Business in Post Recession Times,” was the theme of a three-day event that brought together a group of 21 that included planners and hotel reps for the 13th Annual Krisam Group Insurance Advisory Board Conference held May 12-15 at the Jumeirah Essex House, New York, hosted jointly by Jumeirah, Empire Force Events, a destination management company that is a partner of Global Events Partners (GEP), and Krisam. 

“I saw energy from the group that hadn’t been there in recent years and confirmation that the meetings industry is recovering, but with new norms. In some ways, the challenges of the last few years have strengthened the industry, bringing more respect for the value of meetings and incentives and, concurrently, for meeting and incentive professionals,” says Jim Schultenover, president of Krisam and GEP.

The planner’s mood was positive, Laurel Rhoads McCarthy, director of sales for Krisam said, with reports of more meetings and incentives that are even starting to plan further out. However, she continued, planners are being asked to justify the value they are giving and receiving and so are asking for new documentation from hotels and other suppliers.

Key takeaways from the conference were:

1. Planners are receiving more senior leadership support as awareness of the value and impact of meetings has increased. The profile of a meeting planner has been raised and they are involved with senior management more than ever before.

2. Cost avoidance and cautious spending are terms being used to describe how planners are looking to add value yet not increase spending. They may consider a higher-level hotel but scale back on gifts and production and staging spending, for example.

3. Rational indulgence is a new phrase that refers to allowing some fun back into meetings without seeming flashy. Many ideas presented involved groups being interactive and less formal during banquets with such arrangements as family style dinners and communal tables. 

4. Hotels are seeing a bit of growth with the city of Miami topping the list. Rates are not back to where they were before the downturn, especially in second and third tier cities, but a 4-5 percent growth is expected in 2011. The demand for specific destinations is causing availability to decrease and rates to increase in certain areas.