The Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA) is set to outdo itself once again. After last year’s action-packed event at Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace, the Big ‘I’ is heading south to Orlando, Fla., for the 105th Annual Convention & InfoXchange. The event will take place at the Orlando World Center Marriott from Oct. 29-Nov. 1.
Jeff Myers, IIAA vice president-public affairs, estimated a turnout of more than 2,000 association members and industry professionals.
‘Virtual Independents’ is the convention’s theme, carried over from last year because the concept is still so relevant, according to Myers.
‘As the insurance industry becomes more involved in technology and e-commerce, this convention is a way to help our agents get geared up,’ he said. ‘They can become actively involved, get hands-on training and find out all about the latest tools for becoming an online agent.’
Aside from the focus on the Internet, this year’s convention will also have a distinct multicultural flair. ‘We are partnering with the National African American Insurance Association [NAAIA] and the Latin American Association of Insurance Agents [LAAIA],’ Myers said. ‘We want to showcase our joint diversity efforts—we’re all focused on bringing more people of color, people of different ethnic backgrounds, into the insurance industry.’
Reverend Jesse Jackson will address these concerns when he gives the presidential address on Monday, Oct. 30, at the morning general session.
Other highlights include a panel discussion on Monday on the topic of ‘E-Commerce—The Cutting Edge of Technology,’ and a talk by acclaimed author and management expert Tom Peters, who will appear Tuesday at the 10 a.m. general session.
And yes, the convention is taking place at a crucial point in American political history: on the eve of the 2000 Presidential Election. Capitalizing on this excitement, the popular Government Affairs Panel will make a return appearance, featuring Republican political commentator Laura Ingraham and former Clinton White House press secretary Mike McCurry, parrying with IIAA lobbyists CEO Paul Equale and Executive Vice President Bob Rusbuldt.
‘It really is going to be a shining point this year, because the panel discussion will come eight days before the election,’ Myers said. ‘The audience will be able to get all the latest inside scoop on what’s going on in the Bush campaign, the Gore campaign and the race for Congress. So it’s going to give them information that they’ll be able to take to the voting booth.’
Those who were at last year’s convention in Las Vegas remember the labyrinth Trade Show—well, that’s nothing compared to this year, Myers said. ‘Our exhibit hall this year is the largest ever in our convention history and we are very proud of the offerings that are going to be available—insurance companies, e-vendors, you name it, it’s going to be there.’
One definite perk is the Marriott’s close proximity to Disney World. ‘The resort is about one mile off the Disney property so there’s great access to Disney,’ Myers said. ‘It’s a very modern facility—very up-to-date, with Internet access in all the hotel rooms and the golf course right there onsite’ (very convenient for Sunday’s golftournaments).
But you won’t have to go to Disney World to see people running around in costumes. The Big ‘I’ will host a costume extravaganza on Halloween Eve (Monday night), so bring your mouse ears!
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