Hosted with charm and enthusiasm by the Opryland Hotel Convention Center staff and the city of Nashville, attendees at the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Conference in July didn't just learn how to manage meetings better during their three days in town. They learned to love country music.

The Music City meeting drew nearly 2,200 attendees-including a record 830 meeting planners and 550 first-timers. Nashville showcased its favorite venues with some homegrown talent: Diamond Rio at the Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ole Opry, and Martina McBride at the final night party in Opryland's two-month-old Delta Ballroom. Both brought audiences to their feet.

Downsizing, doing more with less, and technology still reigned as the popular education topics, while MPI's corporate special interest group hosted a well-attended post-conference session on planning golf events, conducted by author and golf tourney organizer Tony Ciabattoni.

MPI is in no danger of losing its place as the world's largest association of meeting professionals, welcoming 4,300 new members in 1996 for a new worldwide total of 14,237 members in 45 countries.