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by Padraic Gilligan, Vice President, Ovation Global DMC

It’s all about the music

Music seems to define many milestones in my life and the past couple of weeks has been dominated by the rather plaintive sounds of Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston” from way back in 1974 (well done Alison!). This, of course, was due to the appetising anticipation of a return to this great city for FICP 13, the annual gathering of the Finance and Insurance Conference Planners.

The dreary dismals of a wet November morning in Boston cannot damped my enthusiasm for the city, nor can it alter the happy recollections of yesterday’s arrival day when equal numbers of high school kids and FICPers checked out and in at the humungous Sheraton Boston, our home until Wednesday at midday. It was extraordinary to witness how a brilliantly trained team, under the kind but watchful eye of General Manager Angela Vento, can turn a facility around and create a home from home for FICP.

First Timers

Koleen Roach and Bob Beach expertly moderated a real high energy “First Timers Reception” where your choice of chocolate bar determined where you were seated and, unbeknownst to us, provided a telling reveal as to our personality type. I ended up at a great table, meeting the delightful Fanny Tse of the Fairmont Royal York Toronto and re-connecting with a dear friend, Karen Schneider, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Steamboat Grand. Our team exercise was to agree on 5 celebrities to invite to dinner – Bono, JFK, Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs and Tony Bennett made the cut. I wonder what that says about our collective psychological profile? We are technological geniuses who can hold a tune with a penchant for saving humanity and a side interest in blond actresses?

The HP Exchange

The Hospitality Partners’ Exchange which followed the First Timers reception was ably facilitated by the aforementioned Bob Beach and drew a surprisingly large and engaged crowd. We had lots of good news to share this year and our HP colleagues seemed to appreciate the time and effort that Hospitality Partner Advisory Council members give to FICP on their behalf. The big news this year was all around the Live Network and the implementation in 2013 of an appointment system for the first time – more on this tomorrow. Sadly, dear colleagues Bob, Diane Goodman of Goodman Speakers’ Bureau and Colleen Brzozowski of Krism Group leave the HPAC this year having completed their terms.

Fall at Marriott Copley Place

Our opening function was generously hosted by Marriott International and the entire FICP community made the short walk through the Mall to the Marriott Copley Place where we were entertained in grand style. The seamless integration of the Sheraton Boston, the Marriott Copley Place and the Colonnade Back Bay with the Hynes Convention Centre provides for an extremely compelling mid-sized convention experience where the rain in November is seen but not felt!

Marriott pulled out all the stops with a wonderful “Fall” inspired theme and a perfectly co-ordinated event with ample food and bar stations and, despite the significant numbers, no queuing. I caught up with Rodger Stotz, Chief Research Officer at the Incentive Research Foundation – an organisation whose board I am proud to join in January 2014 – and a speaker at this year’s event. He’ll be part of the Opening Keynote today and then will provide a fireside chat style deep dive into Trends in Incentive Travel at 3:30.

Other notable items

  1. The FICP13 app is excellent – full of information, attendee lists, a social and messaging platform etc. Big kudos to QuickMobile Inc
  2. Disco and Abba is 70s, not 80s – just saying
  3. Eldon Gale’s beard is cool
  4. Martin Johnson is a legend
  5. Kathleen and team at DPI doing a great job!

More tomorrow

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