October 25-27, 2023

IRF 2023 Leadership Insights Forum

Frisco, Texas

More than 60 incentive professionals participated in the 2023 IRF Leadership Insights Forum, October 25-27, 2023, at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort, TX. During the two-day experiential event, attendees attended panel discussions, were presented insights from pre-released IRF research, and participated in insightful facilitated discussions.  

The event kicked off with the Anything BUT a Putter teambuilding activity hosted by PRA. Attendees got to know each other in a fun setting as teams worked together to make a putter out of household items, such as toilet brushes, spatulas, broom sticks, and other household supplies. Throughout the competition, teams competed in mini challenges to earn more items to make their state-of-the-art putter. At the end of the event, each team participated in a putting competition, vied for “most spirited team,” and made their case for best team name. 

Education programming began with exponential strategist, business futurist, and bestselling author Nancy Giordano, who started the day off with a “future bomb.” She helped us examine the organizational structures and new mindsets necessary to effectively harness the significant technology innovations heading our way. 

During the first panel discussion, Next Generation Workforce, Amy Gannaway (Rubrik) and IRF research advisors Allan Schweyer and Megg Withinton discussed the role of incentives to recruit and retain talent in a tight labor market. They discussed the emerging workforce’s incentive and recognition preferences, and how this impacts program design/rules structures, travel rewards, and destination selection. Attendees then broke into discussion groups to talk about their workforce challenges and solutions. 

Lauren Lieberman (LILA PHOTO), Donny Neufuss (Sonic Foundry) and Lynn Randall (Randall Insights TX LLC) dove into Artificial Intelligence, Generative AI, and Chat GPT during the Next Generation Technology panel. They discussed the possibilities for AI in a talent-challenged workforce as well as practical applications for AI relative to incentive programs. They explored how efficiencies created by AI shift the workload of employees, and also addressed some risks, and how policies, best practices, and training are necessary to properly use the new technologies.  

After a networking lunch, attendees had the opportunity to try out AI tools themselves during a hands-on working session. AI stations featured Chat GPT tutorials, Blogger.ai by Red Button, how to enhance and extend the use of event photography by LILA photo, and testing out an Oculus to see new destinations. 

We ended the day looking forward with a discussion of What’s Next for Incentives. Nicky Baumohl (Evolutionary Events), Stephanie Harris (IRF), Cindy Hartner (DMC Network), and Seth Ryan (Omni Hotels & Resorts) examined key findings from the 2023 Incentive Travel Index. They shared good news about leadership’s support of incentive travel and review top destinations. They also had a candid conversation about how they are approaching the challenges that accompany this growth, including rising costs, availability, and lift.  

Then attendees participated in their final round of official discussion groups – although the conversations continued to flourish as the closing reception and dinner. 

The 2024 Leadership Insights Forum will take place Monday, October 21 – Wednesday October 23 at The St. Regis Aspen Resort and W Aspen.