If you want to capture the pure essence of what makes a meeting successful, you can’t do much better than to examine the motivations of the forward-thinking meetings and events crew at MPI.
After all, it’s an association made up of and for meeting professionals, so like its counterparts at PCMA, MPI’s major events purposely serve as laboratories to experiment on meeting formats, design and other elements that planner attendees can experience and consider for their events.
Entering into its eighth year, IMEX America’s Smart Monday Powered by MPI delivers a full day of free education Oct. 15 available for registered IMEX America meeting planner attendees. The day focuses on the professional development that is critical for many planners to justify even getting out of the office to travel to Las Vegas to attend the Oct. 16-18 main event that focuses on buyer-supplier appointments.
The two key MPI staffers who take a leading role conceptualizing Smart Monday are Lori Pugh, manager of global education and event production, and Jessie States, head of meeting innovation.
For MPI, powering up to execute Smart Monday was a natural fit for an association whose main purpose is education and advancing the careers of its members. From a strategic standpoint, running Smart Monday allows MPI to reach beyond its membership to recruit new members, all while hammering home the raison d’être of the association.
“Part of MPI’s core mission is to connect the global meeting and event community to education, innovation and collaboration, and this filters into everything that we do, including the meetings and events we host,” States said. “As an association, we advocate that every meeting has to meet defined business objectives and contribute to an organization’s success, and that is no different here.
“From the attendee perspective, we absolutely design Smart Monday to deliver on an exceptional educational experience that helps our audience to positively impact and change the way they do business and design and execute their meetings,” she added.
Besides the obvious attendee benefits, reinforcing MPI’s brand of being the premiere purveyor of meetings industry education also reaps dividends in a dollars and cents context.
“From an MPI business perspective, we want to increase brand awareness, attract new members and keep those who are already members engaged,” States said. “We do this by bringing in high-level and business-relevant keynotes, facilitators and subject matter experts; by designing the education to increase engagement and peer-on-peer learning; and by creating experiences that drive networking and discourse.”
MPI isn’t alone in the effort, either, getting help from an alphabet soup of other meetings industry associations such as ILEA, EIC, IACC, SITE, HSMAI, IAEE and Destinations International to fill out the education roster.
Smart Monday 2018
To facilitate Smart Monday each October the MPI team meets with IMEX Group every January for a two- to three-day strategic planning retreat to look at both the survey results from the previous year as well as industry research regarding what educational topics are most important to meeting professionals.
“As a result of our meeting earlier this year we decided that most of the presenters that we would book would be new to Smart Monday—about 70 percent booked for Smart Monday are new—and we decided how to make the hallways and breaks more interactive and dynamic by bringing in a more experiential experience,” Pugh said.
The driving force that informs each year’s Smart Monday is the theme that is carried through the entire IMEX America program, which serves to reinforce that meeting planners should strongly consider adopting themes for their events.
“The theme is embracing the concept of legacy, from political through environmental to personal,” Pugh said. “You’re going to see that especially with our Smart Monday keynote from Julius Solaris. He’s going through the most inspiring events from around the world, and how that changes behavior (legacy), and life-changing experiences and leaving a mark for the attendee.
[Related Content: Event Manager Blog’s Julius Solaris Encourages Planners to ‘Make Change’]
“We’re not just planning meetings, we’re creating truly life-changing events,” she added.
States put a further emphasis on Pugh’s remarks.
“In the day-to-day, we don’t think about the power of our industry,” States said. “They don’t think about the lives that we’re changing—tens of millions a year. It kind of changes the conversation of what it is you do.”
Besides the perennial core feature of education, this year’s rendition of Smart Monday will change up the formula a bit by offering the following new features:
- A “mock trial” covering meetings contracts, in which attendees will serve as a jury with two facilitators arguing both sides of an issue. “It helps them think more strategically when they’re creating contracts,” Pugh said. “It’s not Contracts 101; it’s a totally immersive experience.”
- Two sessions on navigating GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation): the basics of the regulation and another session using heatmap technology to illustrate how traffic at events is tracked and the ramifications of doing that.
- The use of “dotmocracy,” in which attendees use stick-on dots to vote on session topics at the beginning of the session, which boosts audience participation.
- An interactive carnival experience in the hallways that will liven up the day and spark conversations and networking. “Often we go to conferences and we just go from one educational session to the other with a water-bubbler in the hallways,” Pugh said. “We want to make this an experience, so we’re going to have some carnival entertainers and activities, with a few surprises, too.”
- A six-hour Crisis Communications certificate program that costs $499 for MPI members and $699 for non-members and facilitated by 2018 MPI RISE Award recipient Alex Plaxen, founder and president of Little Bird Media.
Check out the infographic below for even more Smart Monday and IMEX America education stats:
To discover more about Smart Monday, visit www.imexamerica.com/whats-on/smart-monday.