“THE ROI SUMMIT: APPLYING THE POWER OF MEETINGS” was just one reason some 3,151 meeting planners and suppliers flocked to the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Denver in late July. That's the second-highest attendance ever at an MPI event, surpassed only by the July 2001 record of 3,461 attendees at WEC in Las Vegas.

The day-and-a-half ROI education track, a sort of conference within a conference, drew nearly 200 professionals, many of them senior corporate meeting planners “responsible for demonstrating the value of meetings within their organizations,” according to Colin Rorrie Jr., PhD, CAE, president and CEO of MPI.

Announced just eight weeks before the WEC took place, the ROI Summit was designed to help planners face the downsizing and outsourcing challenges of the corporate meeting world, as well as deal with procurement departments. It was also the culmination of eight years of championing the ROI message in corporate America by Hugh Lee, president of Fusion Productions and current chairman of the MPI board. “By establishing measurable meeting objectives, meetings do contribute to an organization's bottom line,” says Lee.

For the first time, MPI was able to afford to bring in outside resources, he adds. The summit was sponsored by The MPI Foundation through a grant made possible by Fusion, Gaylord Hotels, and the Northern California Chapter of MPI.

Highlights included a panel of procurement professionals that gave attendees an insider's look at how strategic procurement has changed over the years, including the strategies behind the process of consolidating meeting expenditures at Novartis, the giant pharmaceutical company.

In addition, Jack Phillips, PhD, chairman of the ROI Institute, Chelsea, Ala., spent hours teaching the planners in attendance how to use established tools and applications for ROI methodology. With MPI, the ROI Institute has customized a certification workshop for the meeting and convention industry that will be held at sites around the world through 2005. For more information, visit www.mpiweb.org.