More than 1,600 attendees convened at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for on April 4. About 650 meeting planners and 1,000 suppliers convened at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on April 4 for the 21st Annual New England Meetings Industry Conference and Exposition, where they gathered to attend educational sessions, network with peers, and connect on the trade show floor.

The 793-room Westin Boston Waterfront hotel served as the headquarters hotel for NEMICE, as well as the meeting space for the conference’s general session, where Bruce MacMillan, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, spoke about future initiatives for MPI, and Christie Hicks, senior vice president of global sales for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., gave a presentation about industry trends in meetings management and hospitality.

Highlights from MacMillan’s session:

  • MPI achieved record attendance this year at its Professional Education Conference in Copenhagen with 525 meeting professionals in attendance.
  • In April 2008, MPI will launch a Professional Education Conference in Dubai, in a move that marks the association’s goal to build a more global community for the meetings industry.
  • MPI plans to build its global strategy by focusing on community. “Don’t think of us as an association anymore,” said MacMillan. “If we are successful, we will be seen as a true global community.”
  • MacMillan said MPI will evolve into a “global community” by reinventing the business relationships within its chapters. MPI will look to facilitate stronger business relationships within the chapters and to provide incentives to chapters that conduct business internally. According to MacMillan, this concept will be explored further this May at the chapter leaders’ conference, and a three-step plan for rolling this initiative out will follow.

Highlights from Christie Hicks’ session:

  • The seller’s market is likely to continue through 2010 based on historical industry data, which shows cycles typically lasting seven to nine years.
  • In 2006, hotel occupancy was at its highest in 10 years, with a slight increase still expected for 2007.
  • Resorts planned for the future increasingly incorporate a real estate component--such as a condominium complex--to minimize the risk of bringing new inventory online.
  • Hotel inventory has remained flat over the past few years, with limited supply planned over the next few years. Hoteliers will continue to be selective in the way they choose business.
  • These challenging market conditions are creating the need for longer lead times for meetings and increased flexibility on the part of the planner.

For more information on MPI’s New England Chapter, go to here.--Rachel Gecker