“Globalization” was the watchword at Meeting Professionals International 2007 Professional Education Conference in New Orleans late January.

During the opening session, new MPI President and CEO Bruce MacMillan referred to MPI as a “powerful global community” of ideas, knowledge, and business opportunities. In a separate interview, MacMillan and MPI Chairman of the Board Mark Andrew elaborated on that theme as they discussed issues ranging from MPI's CultureActive tool to new opportunities for the association to expand into areas such as Asia and South America.

CultureActive, an e-learning tool aimed at increasing intercultural awareness, was launched last year, but it has not gained traction among MPI members. Meeting professionals, MacMillan said, need to understand that even if their attendees don't travel to London or Shanghai, there can still be international aspects to their meetings — and the tool is just as relevant for planners whose meetings in the United States include international attendees. “The bottom line is that we have to tell a better story around the CultureActive tool,” noted MacMillan.

As for MPI's future, MacMillan said it's no secret that regions such as China, with its developing infrastructure, “represent a huge opportunity for us.” MacMillan also noted that MPI will be looking to develop partnerships with companies that are positioned globally.

Security concerns had swirled about New Orleans in advance of the PEC, but there were no reports of problems, and attendance hit the 2,400 mark, surpassing last year's numbers in Charlotte, N.C. New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry voiced his belief that the importance of MPI's visit to the Crescent City far outweighed the actual size of PEC, considering the exposure it provided.

The welcome given to MPI, said Andrew, indicated that when it comes to meetings, New Orleans “doesn't just walk the talk, it runs the talk.”