This week’s Meeting Professionals International’s redesigned World Education Congress (WEC) that closes today, 26 July, was built on what MPI President and CEO Bruce MacMillan called “the new rules of engagement”.
The conference opened 23 July in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center.
The new rules, MacMillan told a press conference, meant that in addition to delivering business value to attendees, meetings must embrace technology; be designed for social, environmental, and economic impact; and innovate and inspire.
MPI eliminated its tradeshow at WEC this year, replacing it with a hosted-buyer programme. This resulted in 4,000 on-site appointments between buyers and sellers.
Initial reaction from MPI organisers claimed planner attendance higher than at each of the past two WECs.
The 2011 WEC featured new sessions like the Daily Download, a place where the virtual world and the face-to-face meeting converged, and attendees could chat about the days events and post their observations using social media. It’s a way to use technology to “think outside the room,” said MacMillan.
Another new feature is The Blitz, held from 5pm to 8pm on the second day of the conference. The Blitz is an area where attendees can eat, drink, and minglewhile interacting with vendors and suppliers who create spaces to showcase products and services or just engage attendees with music, games, or interactive features.
New MPI Chairman Sebastien Tondeur, CEO at MCI, outlined the board’s three main objectives for 2011-2012: to communicate and build upon the value and content that MPI currently offers; to expand MPI’s global reach; and to look for ways to adapt and meet members’ needs in a changing industry.
Keynote speaker Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, told the audience: “You don’t realise how important your job is.
“Humans are social animals who need social interaction,” he said, “but in today’s world, technology is replacing many human interactions. Nothing can replace this.”
He went on to say that the key to inspiring loyalty in attendees or customers is to focus on why you do what you do, not what you do. “No one cares what you do, they care why you do it,” he said.
The conference opened with a reception at Epcot in Walt Disney World a where a portion of the park was closed off for MPI attendees, who enjoyed an evening of food, cocktails, music, and Disney rides and attractions.
MPI announced the location of its upcoming conferences. For WEC, MPI picked Minneapolis for 2014, San Francisco for 2015, and Philadelphia for 2016. The 2012 meeting is already set for St Louis and 2013 is in Las Vegas.
The European Meetings and Events Conference will be held in Budapest, Hungary, in 2012 and Montreux, Switzerland, in 2013.
MPI handed out Rise Awards to MaryAnne Bobrow for Member of the Year; to Courtney Stanley for Young Professional Achievement to Maarten Vanneste for Meeting Industry Leadership; to the MPI Minnesota Chapter for Community Achievement in Knowledge and Ideas, and to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for Organisational Achievement.
An MPI Barometer survey last month, meanwhile, indicated spend per meeting was showing signs of growth. And the MPI Foundation recently announced it had raised £125,000, half the total needed to underwrite the first meeting industry UK Economic Impact Study.
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