Meeting Professionals International’s annual Professional Education Conference/North America, held February 2 through 4 at the Walt Disney World Resort and at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., ended up a success despite economic worries, the prospect of war, and the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew the day before the conference opened. At 2,207 (680 planners and 1,167 suppliers), attendance was well up over last year’s somewhat disappointing turnout of less than 1,500. The PEC Expo, held on Monday, February 3, featured 288 exhibitors.

MPI chairman George Aguel announced the organization’s new strategic plan at the conference. The plan, which builds upon the "Great Leadership Strategies" presented at last years’ World Educational Conference, has three elements:

1. Creating career pathways and resources that enable members to evolve professional toward positions of strategic influence

2. Increasing MPI’s influence with senior decision-making executives

3. Focus on business development opportunities for suppliers.

As Aguel noted in his presentation of the plan, MPI members need to learn ways to present themselves and their work as vital to corporate and association goals, but MPI as an organization also has to work as a "voice of the industry", explaining the business impact of meetings and events. At both the member and organizational level, the plan seeks to raise the industry’s professional profile.