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What to Expect at the 2024 MPI World Education Congress in Louisville

MPI President & CEO Paul Van Deventer at the 2023 WEC in Mexico

The 2024 MPI World Education Congress (WEC), the association’s signature educational and networking event for meeting professionals, is around the corner, taking place May 20-22 in Louisville, Kentucky.  

Centered around a “Craft Your Experience” theme, WEC Louisville will be the first time the WEC experience will be personalized for each individual attendee. Instead of creating a once-size-fits-all conference, the MPI team harnessed the latest event technology and the industry’s brightest minds to build a flexible event based on what each attendee wants and needs.  

This year, the MPI team launched its WEC app earlier than usual, giving attendees the opportunity to start building their schedules, get to know other attendees and chat about all things WEC Louisville before heading to the event later this month. (Download the app by visiting the MPI WEC website.)

In short, the MPI team knows they’re “cooking for chefs” this year, and they’re prepared to “serve up the best, for the best.” Here’s a look at what’s on the WEC Louisville menu.

WEC Louisville’s “Craft Your Experience” Theme

“Our team really wanted to showcase all of the different experiences attendees have at their fingertips when they arrive,” said Jessie States, vice president of MPI Academy. “Much like an exceptional meal, attendees will be able to craft a unique experience as customized as they want to make it. MPI will give them the tools/ingredients to put together an itinerary to make sure they don’t miss out.”

MPI WEC Louisville Logo
MPI WEC Louisville Logo

WEC Louisville’s “Craft Your Experience” theme is showcased even on the event’s website, where meeting and event professionals can get a sneak peek of three “courses” on the menu:

  • First Course – Feed Your Mind: “Powered and programmed by the MPI Academy, WEC Louisville's meeting and event education will be a charcuterie board for the brain.”
  • Second Course – Four-Star Networking: “Step out into Louisville to see what the buzz is about. From Churchill Downs to 4th Street Live! have the time of your life with the best in your profession.”
  • Third Course – Save Room for Business: “At WEC Louisville, there's plenty of face-to-face business on tap. MPI's Hosted Buyer Program is specially prepared to forge partnerships that will age like wine.”

At WEC Louisville, the event’s “Craft Your Experience” theme will come to life in a variety of ways through activations and opportunities such as:

  • Creating a hat, including a fascinator or men’s hat, for the opening party at Churchill Downs.
  • Craft cocktails or coffee at various events throughout WEC.
  • A paint-by-number corporate social responsibility (CSR) opportunity, with the final artwork gifted locally through the Foundation for Hospital Art.
  • Crafting your own educational tracks. MPI is aiming to make it easier and less overwhelming for attendees to identify which top-notch sessions are the most impactful for them. Examples include:
    • Featured Track (keynote caliber speakers)
    • Senior Professionals Track
    • Tech/AI Track
    • Games (for Business) Track
    • Back to Basics Track
    • Wellness & Sustainability Track
    • Medical Meetings Track
    • Partners & Communities Track

(Shameless plug: You should totally add Meetings Today’s own Taylor Smith’s session, “OK, Zoomer!": The Battle Between Baby Boomers and Gen Z, with Michael Owen, managing partner at EventGenuity, to your WEC Louisville agenda! Catch them on stage from 2-3 p.m. on Monday, May 20 in room M104 at the Kentucky International Convention Center.)

[Related: MPI Continues Global Growth at Its First WEC Event in Mexico]

Panelists on stage at the 2023 MPI WEC in Mexico
Panelists on stage at the 2023 MPI WEC in Mexico

Highlighting Louisville’s Culture

The F&B scene in Louisville may be a major draw of the city, but Louisville also has a rich history in the arts.

New to the WEC programming this year, MPI is showcasing the importance of integrating performance into educational experiences by weaving music and performing arts into the storytelling throughout WEC Louisville and on the main stage.  

Attendees at the 2023 MPI WEC in Mexico
Attendees at the 2023 MPI WEC in Mexico

Here are a few ways WEC Louisville attendees will be able to experience the host city’s arts and culture at the event:

  • Keynote speaker Mark Schulman is a celebrity drummer who has toured with Pink and Cher and, with neuroscientist Heather Crider, will present a keynote titled “Hack the Rockstar Brain” at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 21.
  • Keynote speaker Filipe Gomez is a virtuoso pianist who brings a grand piano with him on stage to provide an entertaining learning experience. See Gomez for his keynote “Virtuoso: A Music-Filled Journey Through the Mind, Body & Soul of Leadership” at 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21.
  • Broadway Plus is bringing a singer, dancer and actor trio to perform and do a deep-dive panel called “Broadway to Boardroom: Business Best Practices from Backstage” at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 22, featuring Jessica Lee Goldyn of Moulin Rouge!, Kyle Taylor Parker of Kinky Boots and Fergie Phillippe of Hamilton.
  • Keynote speaker Pamela Schuller, a comedian with Tourette syndrome, will teach WEC Louisville attendees how to “F__ Your Fears!” at 4 p.m. on Monday, May 20.
  • Keynote Princess Sarah Culberson, a storyteller and activist whose life is being adapted into a major motion picture for Disney Studios, will present her keynote “Better Together: How to Build a Culture of Belonging” at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22.
  • The WEC Louisville President’s Dinner will feature Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc and will be held at the Mellwood Art Center, which highlights the work of independent artists.

Showcasing Louisville as a Destination

At WEC Louisville, MPI will be showcasing Kentucky’s largest city by giving attendees exclusive entrance into venues and facilities they wouldn’t normally be able to access, including:

  • Churchill Downs First Turn Club, which will host the WEC Louisville Opening Celebration. The event will transport attendees to the Kentucky Derby and includes horses, jockeys, buglers and plenty of red roses.  
  • Mercury Ballroom will play host to MPI Foundation’s Rendezvous fundraising event. This eclectic concert venue, a Live Nation space, is the perfect spot for a dance party with rock royalty memorabilia throughout. Attendees can look for two unique activations—a Southern Tea Party and Alice in Wonderland.
  • Fourth Street Live!, host of the Closing Celebration. Its proximity to all hotels will ensure attendees have easy access to live disco music, food and cocktails. (Did you know Louisville produces disco balls?!) MPI will be unveiling the largest disco ball in the world at the WEC Louisville Closing Celebration.

[Related: MPI Shows Its Resilience at 2022 WEC San Francisco]

Entertainment at the 2023 MPI WEC in Mexico
Entertainment at the 2023 MPI WEC in Mexico

Food & Beverage at WEC Louisville

Keeping the WEC Louisville “Craft Your Experience” theme top of mind, the MPI team is making sure the F&B menu is just as plentiful and customizable as the event experience, prioritizing things like:

  • Flavor: The first all-attendee lunch at WEC Louisville will have a Moroccan flair, combining flavors and ingredients from various culinary traditions. The meal will “step on the edge” with proteins like braised-lamb meatballs and incorporate well-rounded vegetarian options (quinoa with toasted chickpeas, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers) that attendees can enjoy.
  • Customization: Approximately 30% of meeting and event attendees indicate a dietary allergy or restriction within their event registrations. The MPI team understands it’s important to make sure each menu is dedicated to providing multiple options that make sure everyone has enough to eat.
  • Appetizer-based menus: For morning and afternoon breaks, the MPI team is focusing on appetizer-based menus featuring items attendees may not typically see during the day. Rather than overloading people with refined sugars, they want to provide brain food that is also appealing, like house-made chicharron served with smoky chipotle aioli or black-eyed pea shooters.  

Other trends the MPI team is bringing forth at WEC Louisville include unique spices and mocktails instead of cocktails, offering signature drinks at breaks and lunches.

[Related: Mocktails Are Gaining Popularity. Will Meetings and Events Catch the Trend?]

Key Events to Attend at WEC Louisville

Be sure to add the following events to your WEC Louisville itinerary:

  • Opening Celebration: 7 p.m.-10 p.m. on Monday, May 20 at Churchill Downs First Turn Club
  • President’s Dinner: 6:15 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21 at Mellwood Art Center
  • Rendezvous – Celebrating 40 years of the MPI Foundation: 9 p.m.-midnight on Tuesday, May 21 at Mercury Ballroom
  • Closing Celebration: 7 p.m.-10 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22 at Fourth Street Live! 

Read this next: MPI Names WEC Destinations Through 2026 

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About the author
Taylor Smith | Content Developer, Destinations and Features

Taylor Smith joined Stamats in May 2022 as a content developer, destinations and features for Meetings Today. Smith has experience covering everything from travel to breaking news and graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in news and magazine journalism. Previously, she’s written for St. Louis Magazine and worked as an editorial assistant and apprentice for Aubree Nichols, who has been published in premier publications such as The New York TimesELLE and The Los Angeles Times.