IRF Education Invitational Ups Its Game

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IRF Education Invitational
Stephanie Harris, IRF President

This year’s IRF Education Invitational, which just wrapped up with 530 attendees at the Conrad Hotel at Resorts World Las Vegas, illustrated how closely this organization listens to feedback from participants—about its research, its operations and its events.

IRF Education Invitational
Resorts World Las Vegas

There were a number of changes to the agenda at this year’s event. Instead of a full day of education, people attended two half days in the morning, giving them afternoon time to explore Las Vegas. The gifting experiences that the IRF uses to spotlight incentive merchandise were distributed throughout the event, rather than at one gifting suite on the first day—creating various pops of gifting. The live auction, which is known for its bucket list trips around the world, this year included lower-priced options to be more inclusive to all attendees. The change paid off, too, earning $472,000 to support the IRF’s operations and research in the coming year.

IRF Education Invitational
The Zen Den

There was a strong nod to wellbeing, with well-attended early morning exercise sessions  and an opening day Zen Den, sponsored by PRA, that included massages, a singing bowl meditation and giveaways of Citizens smartwatches that track activity, heart rate and circadian rhythm.

As always, the IRF Education Invitational featured a variety of experiences to spotlight the destination; this year’s ranged from helicopter rides to a hardhat tour of the Fontainebleau to a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour of the Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas. An excursion to the Westin Lake Las Vegas was a wonderful surprise, and included a poolside luau and rides on the resort’s new solar-powered pontoon boat.

IRF Education Invitational
Private performance by Jeff Civillico

The event retained the other elements that are at its core: a strong educational component (years ago, this event was almost purely golf); a trade show at the pool, known as Cabana Day; and numerous networking opportunities. And at the center of everything was the IRF research, which in recent years has been presented in a bite-sized format with infographics and bulleted data to be more digestible.

IRF Education Invitational
Elegant auction evening decor

On the sponsorship side, the IRF’s new Partner Program is a year-long partnership that includes research, event participation, marketing and other activities. There are a limited number of Partners, all of whom gain visibility far beyond the annual event. The program was created with the assistance of Isabel Mahon, Director of Sales Incentive/InsuranceFairmont Hotels & Resorts, who was awarded with this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award. The Outstanding Service Award went to Jeff Broudy, the founder of United Incentives and a long-time leader of the incentive industry, now retired.

Next year’s IRF Education Invitational will be held in May 2024 at Rosewood Baha Mar in the Bahamas.

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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.