Enjoying its largest turnout ever, Meeting Professionals International welcomed more than 3,600 attendees to its World Education Conference in Dallas, its headquarters city, July 9 to 11.

The ratio of 60 percent suppliers to 40 percent planners was quite impressive, according to Mark Andrew, CMP, chairman of the MPI Board, since attendance is “usually about one-third planners.” For the first time, MPI offered one-day passes to the trade show on Monday, which bolstered attendance, and many of the full-conference registrations came in at the last minute: 400 attendees registered during the week leading up to the meeting. Before this conference, MPI's largest meeting had been the 2001 WEC in Las Vegas, with 3,461 attendees.

For the first time, MPI offered a strategic meeting management track consisting of six sessions over the course of two days, which covered the eight basic steps for developing a strategic meeting management program, as outlined by the MPI Global Corporate Circle of Excellence white paper in 2005. The sessions were well-attended, and monitors had to turn away many would-be attendees.

Among the most anticipated events of the WEC is the announcement of MPI's annual awards. For 2006, Sally Goldesberry, CMP, CMM, senior manager of meetings and exhibitions for the Dallas-based Society of Petroleum Engineers, was honored as International Planner of the Year, and Barb Taylor Carpender, CMM, was named International Supplier of the Year. Carpender is founder and chief alliance officer of Denver-based Taylored Alliances.

Mexico City — based Creatividad y Promocion and HSBC Mexico were honored with the Global Paragon Award for meetings with budgets up to $1,000 per attendee; AOL won for meetings with budgets exceeding $1,000 per attendee. The Global Paragons are awarded to events that best meet measurable goals and objectives.

In other MPI news, Christine Duffy, outgoing chairwoman of the board and president and CEO of Maritz Travel Inc., announced at the WEC that a decision about a new chief executive officer would be made within 90 days. Andrew, who took a leave of absence from his job as general manager of the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, in March to serve as MPI's interim CEO when Colin Rorrie Jr. resigned, left Starwood in early July when the owner of the Vancouver property decided to replace him. Although Starwood offered Andrew a position in another city, he has decided to look for a job in Vancouver. Sandra Riggins, MPI director of governance and chief of staff, replaced Andrew as interim CEO when he took office July 1 as chairman.

MPI surpassed the 20,000-member mark in early July, and Houston has been selected as the host city for the 2008 Professional Education Conference-North America, February 3 to 5.

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