During the opening general session of Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress, Kevin Hinton, executive vice president of Associated Luxury Hotels International and chairman of MPI’s 2012-2013 international board of directors, announced that the organization has begun the request-for-proposal process to identify a search firm to find a new CEO. MPI’s former CEO, Bruce MacMillan, left the organization after his contract expired in June. MPI COO Cindy D’Aoust is serving as interim CEO until a new CEO is hired.

MPI also has formed a strategic planning task force to refine how the organization will go about delivering sustainable value to its members. This plan in turn will determine the qualities and skills the organization will seek in a new CEO. In a message to MPI members, Hinton said, “We owe our membership a diligent search process and feel this is an important step.” Members of the task force include: Hinton; Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, Breining Group; Jordan Clark, Caesars Entertainment; Michael Dominguez, MGM Resorts International; Christine Duffy, Cruise Lines International Association; Hattie Hill, CMM, Hattie Hill Enterprises; Bob Moore, Freeman; Carol Muldoon, CMM, KPMG; Alisa Peters, CMP, CMM, Experient; and Sebastien Tondeur, MCI.

Declining to provide a concrete timeline for developing the strategic plan and hiring a new CEO, D’Aoust said, “It’s not about a timeline. It’s not so much about the when as it is about getting it done right, to find the right person who has the right set of skills for what MPI needs moving forward.” She added that the organization is not being put on hold while the process moves along.

“We’re not stopping and waiting for a new leader,” she said. “I am partnering with Kevin and the rest of the team to move our strategy forward.” While the organization under MacMillan’s leadership had been pushing for more growth in the global arena, she said that the present mission is to double-down on what MPI is providing to its current membership. “We’re looking to service the existing community better,” she said. For example, MPI’s European members are under some stress due to the economic conditions they face now. “We may work on redesigning their model so we can better meet their needs,” she said. According to Hinton, while MPI will still consider opening new chapters internationally, there would have to be a real demonstrated need for a new chapter in that country.
 
The recent partnership with Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International—which entails each organization providing educational sessions at the other organization’s conferences—is one example of how MPI plans to provide more value to previously underserved members without, as D’Aoust put it, “forcing them to join other organizations to get what they need.”
 
MPI also made some adjustments to this year’s WEC based on member feedback. For example, she said, members asked to have fewer sessions in each time slot, and to make the sessions longer and more interactive—some sessions at the St. Louis conference ran for 75 minutes. MPI also brought back some formats that weren’t quite ready for prime time when trotted out at previous WECs, such as unconferences and Open Space Technology. A session on these formats was so popular that MPI added a repeat. The Flash Point Idea Assembly—a series of 15-minute quick-hit talks that MPI initiated at its 2010 WEC in Vancouver—was back by popular demand. And the MarketSquare, an informal trade show meant to complement MPI’s hosted-buyer program, was brought back for its second year, expanded to two days from last year’s one, and spanned two floors of the America’s Center.

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