MPI World Education Congress (WEC) 2019, held June 15-18 in Toronto, recorded the largest attendance numbers for the conference in the past 10 years, according to the association.
“Since we stopped having a tradeshow, this is our biggest conference," said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. "We had about 2,600 people in attendance, and about half of those are meeting planners, so that’s wonderful for us.”
According to Van Deventer, about 200 attendees were hosted buyers.
Mega Perks for Attendees
WEC 2019 and MPI also focused on attendee perks, such as increasing sustainability—a major demand of conference-goers nationwide. For example, MPI shared the following:
- WEC used 100 percent renewable resources.
- WEC offered three primary CSR and sustainability components:
- Dress for Success, where attendees could donate women’s clothing
- Arts Junktion, where attendees can donate arts and crafts materials
- Timea’s Market, which sells bath and spa products with proceeds dedicated to supporting survivors of human trafficking
WEC 2019 offered 80 education sessions with the ability to earn 19 CEU clock hours. Additionally, the MPI Foundation raised more than $220,000 during WEC, which it will use to fund scholarships, grants and other support to meeting planners.
Its Rendezvous event raised more than $190,000.
The MPI Foundation awarded 89 scholarships at WEC 2019. Over the past year, the MPI Foundation awarded nearly 300 scholarships.
The MPI Academy supplied training to more than 8,000 professionals in the past year, offering them nearly 45,000 potential clock hours.
The Academy launched an Inclusive Event Design certificate program during its spring program and debuted its Event Marketing certificate program at WEC 2019 in partnership with Cvent.
The MPI Academy selected the Country Music Awards in Nashville for its November Experiential Event Series, in which meeting planners shadow a highly experiential event.
[WEC 2019: Exclusive Interview With MPI CEO Paul Van Deventer]
MPI also launched its first Spanish-language certificate program in 2019, Capacitacion de Conocimientos Basicos: Fundamentos de las Reuniones (Basics Boot Camp: Meeting Fundamentals) in partnership with the MPI Mexico Chapter.
This is the first partnership with a chapter to provide a certificate program.
Van Deventer said one of the biggest accomplishments for the association over the past year was the culmination of a three-year effort to create consistency between all chapter website domains. The association said all chapter websites are now housed under the main MPI domain and feature consistent design, architecture and messaging that will make it easier for meetings and events professionals to find information and resources..
Van Deventer added that a similar consistency effort is being undertaken with the financial platforms and educational offerings of all MPI chapters.
Special Interest Groups and Advising
MPI leadership noted a number of special interest groups it has formed to create for meeting planners to focus on specific areas of interest and collaborate with peers:
- MPI-MD Medical & Healthcare Planners
- Meeting Executives
- Independent & Small Business Owners
- Administrative Planners
- MPI Women
- Association Planers
- Experiential Marketers & Designers
- Financial & Insurance Planners
- Safety & Security
The association also announced the installation of advisory councils in Europe, Canada and Latin America. The councils will focus on innovative and strategic initiatives to increase membership growth, develop stronger partnerships and deliver community value through education and networking, according to MPI.
MPI’s Fight Against Discrimination and Human Trafficking
MPI recently launched MPI Cares, which provides a communication avenue if a member observes and/or experiences unprofessional behavior.
Members can communicate the incident(s) to the MPI Cares Hotline, which is hosted by third-party provider EthicsPoint. Members can also submit reports anonymously.
“We were very sensitive and aware of what was happening in the marketplace, and the #MeToo movement in some ways was a two-edge sword; it showed the horrors and the incidences that were going on, but it also brought attention to that and the ability to react to try to do something about it,” Van Deventer said.
“As we dug into it at our chapter level as well as across our boards, we found out that within MPI we may have been having some issues in our own marketplace, and the biggest challenges were that people were not comfortable bringing those issues forward, and we wanted to create a safe environment for that to happen,” he added.
MPI is also increasing its efforts to fight human trafficking, having signed The Code, a pledge for organizations and companies to sign that includes specific actions to combat human trafficking. Van Deventer said MPI is looking to further its efforts in this area by positioning itself more as an umbrella organization for other hospitality industry entities to work under.
Upcoming MPI WECs
MPI WEC will be held in the following locations in the next four years:
- 2020: Grapevine, Texas
- 2021: Las Vegas
- 2022: San Francisco
- 2023: St. Louis
Check out all of our MPI WEC 2019 event coverage in this handy article.