Close to 1,100 people were learning and networking at Meeting Professionals International’s MeetDifferent conference in Cancun, according to Bruce MacMillan, MPI’s CEO, at a press conference on February 22. While acknowledging that number was just slightly below expectations for the February 20–23 meeting, he also hinted that this would be MPI's last MeetDifferent.

MacMillan said MPI is evaluating what kind of "winter gathering" would make sense for the association in the future and was not ruling out chapter meetings as one way to bring members together in January or February. No hotel or site has been announced for an international conference in February 2011. An MPI spokesperson said a decision will be made in the next 30 days.

MPI will hold its World Education Conference in Vancouver July 24–27, where MacMillan said that proposals for presentations were higher than ever. While MPI will have its traditional marketplace at that conference, MacMillan said it would be the WEC’s last. He said the association is putting the collective buying power of MPI members, estimated to be $16.4 billion, behind its exclusive strategic partnership with IMEX America, taking place in Las Vegas in October 2011. IMEX's chairman Ray Bloom announced that 2,000 hosted buyers would be part of IMEX America, up from the 1,500 originally announced.

MacMillan thanked the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mexico Tourism Board for their hospitality and sponsorship of MeetDifferent, which he described as "off the charts."

MPI made use of the so-called twitterati, power users of the twitter.com microblogging site, at the event, who "were helping to get the word out. None of this would have happened if people weren't in the room. But it is being shared around the world."

In other MPI news, InterContinental Hotels Group is donating $500,000 to the MPI Foundation for a five-year project to further the advancement of thought leadership, studies, research, and the development of standards and business content in the area of corporate social responsibility.

Also announced was a major research alliance between Reed Travel Exhibitions and the MPI Foundation that will produce a comprehensive initiative on meeting and business event performance to be presented at the new Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition in June 2011. “This major piece of research is designed to provide the industry with information on key trends and developments that will have a significant impact on their business,” said Vanessa Cotton, CMM, chair, Reed Travel Exhibitions Meetings and Incentives Events, in a release.