By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
Recession-hamstrung travel budgets be darned. Attendance levels at this week's Target Markets Program Administrators mid-year meeting in Baltimore are looking quite sound, thanks.
Outside the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in the Inner Harbor, winter was falling headlong into the dog days of summer as 90 degree temperatures baked the harbor water. The inside of the hotel wasn't quite as bright as the sparkling bay, but Ray Scotto, the executive director of the Target Markets Program Administrators Association, had a broad smile on his face to go along with his mid-spring tan.
In a brief sit-down with Risk & Insurance® on the opening afternoon of the Target Markets conference, Scotto revealed that the organization's meeting has grown from three carriers in 2001 to what looks like more than 50 this year.
Scotto said 47 carriers signed up for this year's meeting, and four more indicated that they were coming on board by Monday afternoon.
"I think what makes us unique is that we really cater to a very specialized industry segment: program managers, people who have the pen. I think we're offering something to them that is a real benefit to their actual business," Scotto said.
Attendance at Target Markets was 450 last year, and this year Scotto expects attendance to be around 500, an increase of about 11 percent.
REAL GROWTH BUSINESS
One of those drawn into the meeting was Tom Rogers, a Philadelphia-based vice chairman with Aon Benfield, who took the time to head up a mid-afternoon presentation on the reinsurance brokerage's commitment to program administrators.
"We want this to be a real growth business within our own company," Rogers said.
Rogers said it was his company's intention to be able to pull reinsurance relationships into connection with managing general agents like those in Baltimore this week.
"Reinsurers need to be educated about what happens at the MGA level," Rogers said.
Rogers added that Aon Benfield may need some education of its own, despite what he referred to as an impressive talent pool created by the Aon-Benfield merger.
"If this is a $30 billion to $40 billion business and we've got $2 billion, we've got a long way to go," Rogers said.
Although he's happy with the way registration and attendance numbers are going, Scotto said on Monday that he does not want to see Target Markets balloon into something other than what it is, a working conference where people put down their golf bags and martini glasses and get down to business.
"We're also not looking to be a megameeting. We want to specialize and be more focused. It is never our intention to get huge like that," Scotto said.
April 28, 2009
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