August 2014

Minneapolis WEC Showcases New Direction for MPI

by Tyler Davidson

Deepak Chopra addresses the audience at this year's WEC in Minneapolis.


MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) recently wrapped up at the Minneapolis Convention Center, with the vision of the association’s recent leadership change coming to full fruition via a fresh focus on industry advocacy and innovative content options.

A major push on the advocacy side is MPI’s contribution to the industrywide Meetings Mean Business Coalition, spearheaded by U.S. Travel, as well as its own Meetings Move Us Forward campaign.

“[MPI is offering] toolkits for members to help us move this industry forward, that will build a grassroots effort,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI, who took the helm of the association 15 months ago. “We don’t have the funds to create a Coca-Cola- or Chrysler-style ad campaign, but we have power in our grassroots program.”

Van Deventer said that besides advocacy, the association’s other core focus will continue to be career development for its members. The WEC is offering a Career Center for the first time, which helps meeting planners polish their resumes and aids in the discovery of job opportunities.

The association also restructured the MPI Foundation, which contributed nearly a million dollars to scholarships in the past year, and also was a key player in reevaluating and relaunching the CMM, or Certificate in Meeting Management, designation program for veteran planners. The next CMM program is scheduled to take place in Mexico’s Riviera Maya in November 2014. Van Deventer said MPI is also looking to relaunch its online career section.

Other educational efforts include a new healthcare compliance initiative.

MPI WEC 2014 Highlights

WEC highlights this year included the live streaming of all general sessions, with breakout sessions available later; a MarketSquare area that facilitates planner-supplier interaction; and 30-minute informal CAMPFIRE sessions that had attendees sitting in folding campground-style chairs to share ideas on a variety of topics.

Described as a “laboratory for meeting planners,” the WEC will have–upon its completion–featured 150 educational sessions, with 85 percent of sessions eligible for continuing education clock hours and 155 clock hours offered in total.

The hosted-buyer segment of WEC will have matched 250 planners with 150 suppliers.

The best-received general session so far was Sunday’s keynote by Deepak Chopra, who educated attendees about the necessity of well-being both to personal health and successful meetings.

“The number one trend in the world is well-being,” Chopra said. “It’s the most important determinant to you, your family, your community and your country.

“The environment, both internal and external, is also dependent on our personal desire for peace and economic viability, both within and without. Meetings give you the unique opportunity to express your full potential, but it depends on well-being, though,” he added, before receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at the conclusion of his presentation.

Chopra, who is on the advisory board of Delos, which constructs environments that promote well-being in a variety of vertical business segments, is also contributing his expertise to a new Stay Well Meetings program launched by Delos and MGM Resorts International and announced at WEC. The program was launched following the successful rollout of MGM’s Stay Well rooms at its MGM Grand Hotel & Casino property in Las Vegas. The Stay Well Meetings program will debut Aug. 18, 2014.

MPI WEC’s host city, Minneapolis, expects to see $4.7 million pumped into the local economy by delegates, according to Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, with approximately $90 million in future spending tied to the event.

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