5 Lessons I Learned From FICP

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Bert Jacobs, meetings
Bert Jacobs of Life is Good, the opening keynoter at FICP

As both a meeting planner and a member of Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals’ (FICP’s) Education Committee, I approached last week’s Annual Conference last week in San Diego with a particularly discerning eye. Here are 5 things I learned that I can apply to my own events.

Motivational speakers don’t have to be so…perky

Bert Jacobs, cofounder of Life Is Good, won over the audience with honest and humble storytelling of how he and his brother John built their brand—and all the mistakes they made along the way. Today they drive around the country in an Airstream trailer, personally visiting the many people who were inspired by their art and message—most importantly, the children—and give back through the Life Is Good Kids Foundation. I would hire him to speak in a New York minute.

Anything can happen, really

In speaking with one planner who does a great deal of international incentive travel, I was amazed at the horror stories she had been through. In one case, she was holding an event on a beach on a perfectly clear night when a surprise wind blew in and pulled the poles of her cabanas right out of the ground, injuring the guests. Lesson learned: Have an EMT on site, which she did. If it’s something you can’t imagine happening, it just might!

Hyatt’s catering is outstanding

The host hotel, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, did an amazing job catering the final evening on the flight deck of the USS Midway. The chefs rely on local vendors such as Port Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and Chesapeake Fish Company. The sustainable seafood table was exceptional, but so were the tiny grilled cheese sandwiches, turkey burgers, sweet potato fries and much more.

Commercials are annoying

In a breakout session about meeting security, I was forced to endure more than one supplier speak up only to promote their destination, not to share information on the topic. There should be repercussions for individuals who self-promote during educational sessions—it’s not funny or cute. Even worse is when they actually acknowledge that it’s what they’re doing. Instead of rolling your eyes, why not speak up to the meeting organizer?

The right location keeps people in their seats

The Seaport Village area where the Hyatt is located (also the Marriott and Hilton) is an ideal spot for a convention because within seconds after the meeting ends, people can experience all that this seaside city has to offer. There are parks, running paths, independent shops, great restaurants, boat rides and, within walking distance in the other direction, the Gaslamp Quarter. This location enables people to see San Diego but not miss the meeting to do so.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.