by Padraic Gilligan, Vice President, Ovation Global DMC
Sitting in the Dock in LA
The nightmare started as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I’m in the dock.
Somewhere hidden amidst the stern faced scowl of the judge is a face I recognise. Is it Todd Zint? The prosecuting attorney is also familiar. She’s striding theatrically in front of me. I look imploringly to the jurors. They’re showing no signs of sympathy, no intimations of compassion for my plight. Their physiognomies mutate into faces I know – Bonnie Boyd, Laurie Sprouse, Cosimo Bruzzese, Chris Lee. They avoid eye contact and shake their heads. The prosecutor pauses and points intimidatingly at me. Now I see. It’s Koleen Roach. I’m dead meat.
“Please read to the courtroom what you posted on-line on 4 June 2004”
I take the page tremblingly and see the terrible words:
“I’m surrounded by the anodyne, bland and deeply annoying ubiquity of Kenny G”
This was the scenario conjured up in the infinitely complex and strange country of my mind following an sparkling evening function, sponsored by Access Destination Services and Preferred Hotels and Resorts at which Kenny G himself mesmerized the entire FICP community by a combination of his celebrity status and his soothing, soaring melodies.
Monday AM’s plenary session offered an impressive account of FICP’s journey over the past year. Executive Director, Steve Bova, put it cogently: “FICP has become the go-to association within the meetings industry for great education and content and for building community”. With 85% member retention – way ahead of industry benchmarks – and sold out sponsorship slots, FICP is fiscally strong, solid and robust. Much has been achieved under Koleen Roach’s leadership, particularly in area of digital and on-line connectivity, a key member benefit. The new website, with its Linkedin-like community platform and other exciting functionality will greatly assist FICP in nourishing and nurturing an active engaged membership, not only through its face to face activities but also, importantly, on-line.
Return on Investment
Sponsorship of FICP by large international hotel corporations remains vitally important for the association. But FICP is crucial for the hotels too if the Hyatt figures are anything to go by. Over the past 10 years, apparently, FICP planners have placed almost $1 billion of business with Hyatt Corporation worldwide. That’s pretty outstanding ROI in anybody’s estimation!. A shout-out, too, is deserved by the Marriott team that works in the finance and insurance sector who challenged themselves to create something different as part of their presentation to the breakfasting assembly. “Call me maybe (definitely)”, their hilarious massacre of Carly Rae Jepsen’s great pop tune, went down a storm.
Every year FICP delegates are forced to make choices for their breakout sessions. I always choose one which is located next door to the one with the constant laughter and applause. This year I struck gold with Terri Breining’s presentation on “Meetings Architecture”. With effortless skill Terri created an informal, friendly setting in which a large group of people worked through what could be the complicated process of Meeting Architecture (it was devised, after all, by Marten Vanneste, a Belgian!) while sharing easily and openly their own quite significant meeting experience.
Making an Impact
Canada Tourism then bought us a pretty amazing lunch featuring a beautifully created sandwich and salads buffet and tote bags on the table containing fabulous, specially commissioned desserts. In tune with the technology theme they also presented a very cool app via a QR code that introduced us to the various regions of Canada, showcasing a signature activity available at each location. It was all excellent executed and another example of how to make an impact as a sponsor of FICP.
Linkedin and the Generational Divide
the afternoon session I found myself up close and personal with Eric Ly, co-founder of Linkedin. His unassuming, humble disposition belied the fierce, driven determination which must have been at the arrow head of Linkedin’s early years. Interestingly, he shared that Linkedin never wavered from the original foundation vision to serve a business community and to provide connections that might foster careers and business opportunities. Our day drew to a close with a great presentation entitled “What a difference a generation makes”from BridgeWorks, a generational diversity consulting and training company. Amy Lynch (Boomer), Seth Mattison (GenX) and Kim Lear (GenY) steered us around the minefields that lie hidden from view in our efforts to reach out across the generational divide. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant this presentation was all the more credible by virtue of being delivered by presenters from the demographic in question. I was intrigued to discover that “upspeak”, that annoying tendency of young Irish girls to end each sentence as if it were a question, is alive and well amongst female GenYers in the US too.
The Ubiquity of Kenny G
Which all brings me back to Kenny G. Access Destination Services and Preferred Hotels and Resorts treated us to the party of all parties at ICON, a great rooftop venue close to LA Live. We boozed and smoozed, caught up and connected and experience some great live music courtesy of a Bill Hopkins led band. Rumours abounded as to what “surprises” were in store for us.
First up was the sublime Overtone Band from South Africa – although they looked more like preppies from Yale. Their acapella harmonies were stunning and uplifting and it was easy to see why they were included in the soundtrack to “Invictus”, the recent movie about Nelson Mandela and South African rugby team captain Francois Pienaar.
And then it was announced. Multi grammy award winning instrumentalist with more than 75 million album sales worldwide … the ubiquitous Kenny G.
Padraic Gilligan is Vice President of Ovation Global DMC.