While it may have been hard to look past the stunning new UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center where IACC-Americas Connect was staged, a five-year agreement to bring MPI industry education to meeting planners at IACC facilities was the big reveal at the event, held April 4-6 at the impressive new university facility in Los Angeles.

Open since October, the 254-room facility offers up 25,000 square feet of IACC-accredited conference space, along with boasting an LEED-Gold certification and a museum-quality art collection created by artists who are alumni and faculty members of UCLA.

Even though conference centers like to describe themselves as being “distraction-free environments,” I couldn’t help turning my head when walking to and from meetings.

But enough about the privately financed, $152 million venue! From the looks of it, the new IACC-MPI partnership may just be the tip of the iceberg, because as well as sharing educational content from MPI’s national and chapter events, the two associations will also collaborate on online content and research initiatives.

Highlights of the agreement include the streaming of educational content to planners from MPI’s annual World Education Congress (WEC) at IACC-accredited conference facilities.

“The MPI pact is just the beginning,” said Alex Cabanas, IACC’s global president and CEO of hospitality company Benchmark, during the opening general session.

The two organizations have already partnered on educational efforts, with IACC delivering content at MPI Southern California Chapter’s Conference and MPI Philadelphia Area Chapter’s Education Institute. MPI is delivering two educational sessions at IACC-Americas Connect, and the two associations said they are exploring additional opportunities to share educational sessions at more MPI events globally.

“The leadership teams at MPI and IACC have been collaborating on a number of successful initiatives over the last two years, and now seems the perfect time to bring all this great work together under one strategy to allow us to seize more opportunities and provide more for our respective members,” said IACC CEO Mark Cooper in a statement announcing the alliance. “Just as MPI is passionate about designing great meeting experiences, IACC is passionate about venues delivering an exceptional meetings experience. It’s the perfect marriage.”

The first live-streamed conference at IACC facilities will be MPI WEC 2017, held June 19-22 in Las Vegas.

“One of our top priorities at MPI is to continuously enrich our portfolio of professional development offerings, and this collaboration with IACC will certainly help us deliver more value to our membership community,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI, in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We are especially excited about the opportunity to live-stream WEC to members that are unable to make it to the conference this year, and in an environment that encompasses peer-to-peer engagement and networking.”

While live-streaming will allow meeting planners who are unable to attend WEC an opportunity to receive content, the effort will also benefit IACC by showcasing its facilities to potential customers, according to Cooper. The live-streaming also opens up a learning opportunity for ad hoc planners, which both associations are courting.

In other IACC-Americas Connect news, IACC announced MPI will continue to participate in its IACC Meeting Room of the Future research project, with input from global leaders in conference and meeting space design, technology, hospitality, delegate collaboration and conference management.

In the first phase of the project, MPI augmented IACC’s research by providing input from a select group of its membership. The second phase will include input from venue buyers and will be released at MPI’s WEC 2017, with IACC conducting a Research Showcase at the conference, according to IACC.

A big highlight of every IACC annual conference is the Copper Skillet competition, which pits conference center chefs from around the world in a live cooking competition. While as a viewer the enterprise can be a bit tortuous—all of one’s senses are engaged except for being able to taste the dishes!—the contest does do its job of imparting the evolution of conference center cuisine standards.

Winner of the Junior Category was Mary Palecek, from the Sundial-Woodside Conference Center in Warwickshire, U.K. The Senior Category winner was Kent Phillips, from Ivey Spencer Leadership Center in London, Ontario.

Other accolades included Dolce Hotels’ TJ Fimmano winning IACC’s Global Distinguished Service Award and Flik Hospitality’s Tom Cappucci winning the association’s highest annual honor, the Mel Hosansky Award.

IACC Americas