Meeting Professionals International has created a modified hosted-buyer program for its annual conference, MeetDifferent, scheduled for February 20–23 at Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico. The first 100 qualified meeting planners will not pay a registration fee, a $625 savings off the early-bird rate, under the new Matching Program, an alternative to the traditionalMPI has held for many years at both its annual conferences.
When registering, planners are asked a short list of questions about their buying power and then matched for appointments with nine suppliers that “align with their business needs,” according to the MPI Web site. Planners will be assigned the first three suppliers by MPI but can choose six other suppliers themselves. Each prescheduled one-on-one appointment with a supplier will be 20 minutes.
Before accepting participants, MPI says it will verify an applicant’s status as an active meeting planner. Program participants will have a $100 credit-card charge processed when they register, which will be refunded after they appear at all nine pre-set appointments.
According to the conference Web site, qualified planners must be actively involved in buying meeting rooms, space, and services for their organization. Further qualification will be made based on buying authority, buying volume, room nights, and other factors relevant to the planner’s business.
According to a spokesperson, MPI made the decision to move forward with the hosted-buyer program last Tuesday afternoon, the last day of the World Education Conference, after talking to exhibitors, suppliers, and planners about the non–trade show concept.
The next day, Elite Meetings International, Santa Barbara, Calif., announced that its proprietary FaceTime appointment scheduling technology was being considered for the MeetDifferent conference. FaceTime has been selected to facilitate connections, appointments, and scheduling for the hosted-buyer program at the 2009 Motivation Show in Chicago this September.