Attendees at Meeting Professionals International's World Education Conference, held July 28 to 31 in Montréal, heard about many steps the association is taking to expand globally: a plan to sign the United Nation's Global Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility, a new office in Singapore, a new chapter in Korea, and a 2008 MPI-PEC conference in Dubai. But MPI is also looking inward, a change that was apparent in its efforts to offer a greater variety of high-level education.

“We developed a peer-review process to find out what our members were interested in learning about at this conference,” says Vicki Hawarden, vice president of knowledge management and member events. “There was a concerted effort to provide something that was a cut above what we have offered in the past.”

The conference featured a dedicated Strategic Meetings Management track and a Senior Meeting Professionals track, as well as sessions on globalization, climate change, and corporate social responsibility. It seemed that the effort paid off: The Senior Meeting Professionals Forum brought an unprecedented 130 planners together to discuss issues, while a session on “Future Trends and Challenges for Meeting Professionals” was so popular that nearly 250 attendees were shut out because of a lack of space.

MPI also used technology tools to ensure more targeted education. For example, as facilitator of the “Senior Meeting Professionals Forum,” Carol Krugman, CMP, CMM, client services director for George P. Johnson Co., used MPI's new member blogs to request discussion topics before the conference. Audience members also voted on discussion topics during the session using an audience response system. “This is new for MPI, and it is terrific,” says Krugman. “The focus is now on co-creation rather than on having a committee deciding on behalf of members what the objectives of the professional education should be.”

Helen Van Dongen, CMP, CMM, senior manager, events and travel, Deloitte Management Services LP, Toronto, agreed: “This year's program had some of the strongest education I have seen across all the international meetings I attend. Part of the strength of the program was sitting in a room full of senior planners and listening to their war stories.”

Drill Down

NUMBER OF NEW HOTEL ROOMS IN THE CONSTRUCTION PIPELINE IN THE U.S. AS OF APRIL 2007:
543,323*

*A 50 PERCENT INCREASE OVER 2006

Source: Smith Travel Research

Take a Bow

Meeting Professionals International awarded several of its most prestigious honors during the WEC. Among them:

  • International Planner of the Year: Janet Sperstad, CMP, lead instructor for the Meeting and Event Management Degree Program at Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis.

  • International Supplier of the Year: Bob Walker, vice president creative services of AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Services, Dallas

  • Marion N. Kershner Memorial Chapter Leader Award: Mary Ellen Murphy, CMP, CMM, director of special events, Del Posto restaurant, New York

  • 2007 Global Paragon Winner: Energy Center of Wisconsin, Madison, Better Buildings, Better Business Conference

  • 2007 Global Paragon Award of Excellence for Theme: American Red Cross, American Red Cross 125th Anniversary Celebration

  • 2007 Global Paragon Award of Excellence for Promotion: R/A Performance Group and MINI USA, MINI Takes the States