But the biggest question remains: Now that the 2016 Annual Meeting in Hawaii is over, should you wait until the next Annual Meeting in Hawaii? The answer to that question is very personal, but we want to share our experiences, so you can make an informed decision.
Tony: I got my CPCU back in 2011, and my conferment was in Las Vegas. I had a blast and became involved with the New Designee Committee, and later, with the Leadership and Managerial Excellence Interest Group. Since then, I have never missed an Annual Meeting. I am always there helping to host the New Designee Open House in Washington DC ’12, New Orleans ’13, Anaheim ’14, Indianapolis ’15 and now Hawaii ’16. I also spoke in Anaheim and sat on two panels in Indianapolis.
Carly: I attended the 2013 Annual Meeting in New Orleans for my conferment. And as part of the New Designee Committee, I have attended the last two Annual Meetings. I’ve gotten involved in the Underwriting Interest Group and the Leadership and Managerial Excellence Interest Group. I enjoy attending the annual meetings for the opportunity to meet New Designees and spend time with colleagues from across the country who I’ve met through my volunteer involvement in the CPCU Society. Together, Tony and I have almost a decade of experience attending CPCU Society Annual Meetings. We think they’re very valuable for both educational purposes and for networking.
Tony: As I’ve said many times, for me the CPCU Society Annual Meeting is more fun than Christmas, and I was SO excited for Hawaii 2016 that I couldn’t sleep for the last few days before flying out. Having 7,000+ new designees to meet and 12,000+ total CPCUs in attendance means the possibilities for who you’ll meet and connect with are basically endless.
Hawaii is amazingly beautiful and depending on where you live this might be your only chance to come visit. There’s no denying that is hard to pass up. Having a paid flight, hotel, and food for 5 days in Hawaii can lead to many fun adventures, and since you’ll be in Hawaii anyway, it makes a lot of sense to extend the trip for a few more days and even visit another one of the islands. Kauai, Maui and the Big Island seem to be particularly popular places to spend a few days before or after the meeting in Oahu.
The appeal of a paid trip to Hawaii is probably the reason a person might choose to wait to finish their CPCU. We fully understand that appeal, and if you never see yourself traveling there on your own, maybe it’s worth it. But as true Insurance Nerds, we want to share with you five compelling reasons to complete your designation without regard to where the Annual Meeting will be held:
- The next CPCU Hawaii hasn’t been announced yet, but they tend to do it about once every 9 years meaning that the next one might fall somewhere around 2025, and there’s no guarantee that it will be even that soon. Contrary to popular belief, the Society has never committed to a time frame or even to the idea that they will ALWAYS have a meeting in Hawaii. Your career will benefit MUCH more from doing it sooner instead of waiting almost a decade. If you play your cards right, your career might grow so much that you’ll be able to pay for the trip for Hawaii 2025 (or whatever year it happens) and get the best of both worlds (and enjoy at least two annual meetings). We had the pleasure of meeting some fellow CPCUs who did this very thing!
- An average CPCU Annual Meeting brings in around 5,000 people. Hawaii 2016 had over 12,000 people. With that many people MANY things are different from the other CPCU Annual Meetings and depending on how much you like crowds you might or might not enjoy a more moderate sized conference better.
- On an average year, there is a single conference hotel, and almost everybody stays at the hotel. Therefore, it is much easier to randomly run into other CPCUs and get to know people since you’ll see them in the elevators, bars and restaurants in the hotel. It makes you feel like you’re in a world of CPCUs where you can always start a conversation, and it creates an intimate environment where, by day 3 of the conference, you know somebody in any session you go to. In Hawaii, there is no hotel big enough to host 12,000 people so the attendees get divided into many different hotels all over Honolulu, and the conference hires shuttles to get people into a conference center and back to the their respective hotels. The shuttles run every 30-50 minutes and at times you’ll be sitting in line just waiting for a shuttle. Also, this makes it much harder for introverts to go to their room to decompress between sessions.
- At a normal Annual Meeting, there is one single location for each event. For example, the Diversity Reception has a single room in the conference center, while in the Hawaii Annual Meeting there are so many people that events get divided into more than one so there are two different hotels hosting the Diversity Reception at the same time, and you have to choose one or the other, making it MUCH harder to run into the same people over and over and really create lasting connections. Even some educational sessions had to be streamed in to another room, making it impossible for those attendees to ask questions or interact with the speaker.
- The Annual Meeting has both educational sessions and committee meetings. The committee meetings are the reason many experienced CPCUs keep coming back to the annual meeting. During a normal year, both are hosted in the same hotel, maybe a floor apart, making it very easy for new designees to run into people who have been involved with the CPCU Society for a long time, and you get a great opportunity to connect with them. In Hawaii, those sessions are in a separate hotel, so many of the experienced CPCUs are effectively out of reach for the New Designees, and thus networking with those people is much harder than in a normal annual meeting.
- Finally, your conferment is not the only Annual Meeting that you can attend! All CPCUs are invited to the Annual Meeting every year. If you volunteer at the local or national level, there will be opportunities for you to attend in the future. You can start working at the New Designee Open House or join an Interest Group leadership team and write articles or help to engage incoming new designees through educational opportunities.
While we definitely enjoyed this year’s Annual Meeting and were excited to see that over 7,500 Insurance Professional completed the designation and joined our ranks this year, we urge anyone who has started the designation to keep the broader picture in mind. If you need a tropical destination as motivation, we fully understand. But remember that the value of the designation comes from the knowledge you are gaining and deepening and the connections you will make in the CPCU Society. Holding off to complete a course to get to a certain destination may inadvertently stifle your career. And, you’ll miss out on being able to participate in one of the best “Alumni Groups” in the industry! And once you finish the designation don’t forget that CPCU is just the beginning of the journey.
For reference here are the already announced future CPCU Society Annual Meeting Locations:
2018: San Diego
2019: New Orleans
Too many people wait for CPCU Hawaii which only happens about once every 9 years, also word on the street is '16 was the last one because of the logistical nightmare of organizing a conference for 12,000+ people in a tiny island half the world away. CPCU Hawaii was very different from previous ones, not better, not worse. Yeah, the place is beautiful but it's WAY too many people making it hard to connect and network. It's a very personal decision but our advice: don't wait! Medium size conference in a fun city > than gigantic conference in a tropical paradise.