As the first Meeting Professionals International chapter to be managed by a new association-management division at MPI’s headquarters office in Dallas, the New England Chapter welcomed MPI President and CEO Bruce MacMillan with open arms to its annual meeting at the Boston Marriott Copley Place June 28.

Now on solid financial footing and looking forward to a year of rebuilding membership, the New England Chapter is coming off a trying period in which the economic downturn, declining membership, and management issues combined to push it to the brink of disaster. But the international office had the chapter’s back, says Karen King, principal, Meeting Strategists, Boston, who took over as president at the annual meeting.

“International partnered with New England when we truly needed them because they believe in our chapter,” King said, explaining that the New England chapter is “in the process of creating a new business model” with MPI’s headquarters office in which a new division of MPI with a new staff has taken over management of the chapter.

“We are very much at the beginning stage of this,” King said, noting that MPI began working with New England on the new business model a bit earlier than they had intended to roll it out nationally because of the chapter’s need. MPI is hoping that its new division will have management contracts with three other chapters by the end of the fiscal year.

National Support, Local Content
Addressing the annual meeting, MacMillan acknowledged the New England Chapter as the first to test MPI’s association management services, one of the ways he said the national office is looking to support the chapters so that they “can focus on delivering relevant local value. National can’t deliver that. But we can support you.”

Another way MacMillan said the headquarters office in Dallas can help the chapters deliver on member needs is by “creating and harvesting content, and giving it to you in a personalized fashion.” MPI is about to launch a completely new Web site, with content targeted to users based on the profiles those members create for themselves. The New England chapter is now beta testing this new content-driven Web site, said King. And many chapters will be integrating their Web sites with the new international architecture to share educational content. “We have a full-time person to drive chapter content,” MacMillan said.

In fact, MacMillan said in an interview before his address, “we are focusing more on the content and design element of meetings.” MPI’s exclusive partnership with IMEX America as content provider is an example of that. “You will see some innovation around technology introduced there,” he said of the inaugural show, set for October 11–13, 2011, in Las Vegas. “We’ve got a great runway up to it. We’ll be doing a series of webinars and introducing some very innovative and powerful tools.”

As the closing speaker on the MPI New England Annual Meeting program, incoming president King introduced the theme for the coming year: Bold New You. “Our goal is to help our membership grow professionally and stay engaged,” she said. Responding to a member needs survey, she said, “the incoming board went to work building the future” of the chapter. Check the chapter’s Web site for the latest events designed for networking and education.