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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

FICP: the Aftermath

It’s mid afternoon in mid November and I’m mid flight, returning to New York from Nassau where I attended the annual conference of the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners (FICP). Many of my fellow passengers aboard jetBlue 1222 were attendees at the event too but most of us are in a state of temporary unconsciousness, our bodies desperately needing regeneration, rest and hydration following a full-on, deeply engaging 3 day educational event ending with an epic beachside party at the Atlantis on Paradise Island.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 15.37.34A slick and sexy 9 piece band conspired with an far-too-easy, open bar to seduce us into thinking it was Spring Break in a Caribbean resort in the mid 80s and we were all 19 again. Thus we tumbled out of bed this morning lost somewhere between the islands of confusion, embarrassment and pulsating pain. Mercifully we got through the closing formalities and final plenary session (brilliant finale courtesy of Jearlyn Steele)  of conference and headed for the airport, the silence of the airport transfer only punctuated by the opening clicks and surreptitious slurps of bottled water.

In time we’ll reflect that the education offered at Atlantis was amongst FICP’s best. Balancing professional and personal, novice and veteran, informative and fun there was something here for everyone and, if there were a criticism, it would only be to state that there was, possibly, way too much choice! Here are 3 event highlights from FICP 2015 that could easily be replicated and brought to your next conference. The 9 piece band and open bar are optional extras!

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Mike Dominguez continues the conversation

The education programme at FICP 2015 kicked off very untypically with an off-site event. The entire conference decamped from Atlantis to Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, their mega-cruise ship docked in Nassau at the time. With a staggering 2700 cabins, this behemoth has the capacity of a mid-sized Irish town often sailing with over 8500 souls on board. We took our places in the stunning Amber Theatre (the resident show there is a full cast version of Mamma Mia) to hear the inimitable Mike Dominguez of MGM Grand deliver an update on his much vaunted “Trends and State of the Industry” presentation.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 15.43.26Using the simple principles of supply | demand but backed by impressive data and charts, Mike explained why planners will be paying more for their meetings and incentive programmes into the foreseeable future. He also sketched out the potential negative implications of such geo-economic issues as the oil glut and the weak euro. Americans may be paying less for fuel now and enjoying great value when they travel in Spain and Italy but, in macro-terms, this may not be a good thing at all – over 120,000 jobs have been lost in Oil and Gas due to fracking while the strong dollar makes US exports far too expensive in key markets in Europe and elsewhere.

Specifically relating to meetings and incentives, Mike highlighted changes in the eco-system caused by lack of hotel rooms, concerns regarding weather and food, severe reductions in airlift and the increasing impact of disrupters like airbnb and uber. Mike’s contagiously energetic presentation is delivered, like his thought processes, at lightening speed. It ends with some great thought-provoking questions around change and our ability to adapt. He quotes futurist Alvin Toffler:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

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Sally Hogshead tells us how to fascinate

If Mike’s presentation brought us out of ourselves, confronting us with the realities of the world around us, Sally Hogshead’s session called us back again and asked us to be thoughtful and to reflect. Sally’s presentation is delivered with the sparkle and polish of a brilliant communicator (previously she was an award winning copywriter) but, like Mike Dominguez, there’s solidity and substance in the shape of real research and empirical data behind it all.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 15.40.17While Myers Briggs, Insights and other personality tools measure how you see the world, Sally’s platform measures how the world sees you. You take a short test and then locate your personality archetype on a matrix of seven primary and secondary characteristics  – innovation, passion, power, prestige, trust, mystique and alert. Each of the resulting 49 profiles is given a name – I’m “The Catalyst”, for instance – with 3 key drivers highlighted for each archetype – The Catalyst is all about “Out-of-the-box, Social and Energizing”. Sally then shows how this might be applied to a Resumé or Linkedin profile or how it could even become your own personal tag-line: for example – “My distinct value is my ability to deliver energising idea”.

Besides her engaging communication style, the enduring aspect to Sally’s overall presentation was the way it fused pop psychology and personal branding, helping each of us craft our personal brand value proposition for our careers and work environments. Sally’s presentation is most impactful when you’ve taken the test in advance of her talk as she also produces an interesting “group” profile that aggregates all responses. Unsurprisingly, the majority of FICPers were on the innovation | passion | power side of the matrix with multiple Catalysts and Maestros. Check out Sally Hogshead’s website here.

Mike Lyons helps you to set yourself free

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 15.26.04I’ve known Mike Lyons for many years as the quintessential serial professional whose career in the meetings industry spanned the full spectrum from buyer to supplier. Most recently Mike even ran IBTM America for Reed Travel Exhibitions, a huge corporate gig with corresponding compensation. A few years previously I had heard Mike MC and sing at an industry event and, besides encountering another layer of incredible talent, came away thinking here was a man “in his element”. In her excellent concluding plenary in Atlantis Jearlyn Steele even refers to this:

Your talent is what you’re paid for, your gift is what you’re made for

Mike’s talent is providing leadership within the meetings industry. His gift is live communication, public speaking, working as an MC, facilitating, moderating and … singing – he has cut an album of Frank Sinatra favourites.

At FICP Mike told his story under the title “Daydream it, Believe it, Achieve it”. Mixing episodes from his own extraordinarily interesting life with anecdotes about Ray Kroc (he only started McDonald’s in his late 50s), J.K. Rowling and others in the public eye, Mike tells a compelling tale of courage and determination, of not letting go your dreams, of relentless pursuit. What makes it all so convincing and believable for us is that he’s from our industry and he has successfully re-invented himself and carved out a new career at age 60+. Contact Mike Lyons here.

Pádraic Gilligan is Managing Partner at SoolNua a boutique consultancy working with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training. He has just completed a 3 year term on the Hospitality Partner Advisory Committee at FICP

Space prevents me from providing full details of 2 other notable features of FICP 2015 but neither should go without mention: Monique Marvez was hilarious as MC, looked amazing on the dance floor and was a delightful dinner companion; The Mock Trial was a triumph of collegial collaboration, quality education and pure, unadulterated  fun. 

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Speciality Imaging. Gracious thanks, as always, to my good friend Bill Santistevan ([email protected])





6 thoughts on “3 Great Speakers for your next Conference

  1. Nicole Marsh says:

    This is an excellent summary of an outstanding week and my first FICP experience. Spot on and always entertaining. Thank you Padraic!

    1. padraicino says:

      Nicole – so happy that you attended FICP. It’s a super event and definitely one that you should plan to be part of on an annual basis

  2. Padraic, great recap…look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks,

    1. padraicino says:

      Thanks Dan – really looking forward to working together!

  3. Kathy landry says:

    Fabulous review Padraic – another amazing conference . Only my 2nd and looking forward to many more. Truly FICP is the best conference that delivers impactful content , with tremendous networking opportunity .

  4. Michael Burke says:

    You are the consummate summarizer Padraic. Always great to see you and learn from you. Great show, great people and many great memories of our time together in the Bahamas. This industry and this association are better because of you.

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