For the first time at its World Education Congress, Meeting Professionals International will not hold a traditional trade show, but will have an expanded hosted-buyer program as well as other new initiatives that are aimed at giving suppliers more one-on-one time to conduct business with planners. The association is reporting 2,600 planner-supplier appointments already on the books for the Orlando show, which runs July 23–26.

WEC's hosted-buyer program replaces the traditional exhibit floor, requiring participating planners to attend 15 10-minute, one-on-one meetings with suppliers. In exchange, the buyers are given complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations, and meeting registration. In June, MPI expanded the program to accommodate more planners and suppliers. Attendees who aren’t hosted can also participate in the appointment program through the WEC Buyer Connect option.

MPI is taking a creative approach to its educational sessions as well. In an area dubbed “The Hive,” technology experts will present the latest tools and trends in social media, virtual meetings, and meetings technology. A tech concierge will be on site to answer questions about the presentations and other technology issues, and a lounge area (outfitted with charging stations for mobile devices) is earmarked for tweet-ups or meet-ups.

In The Solution Rooms, attendee-led “unconference” sessions will take place, with the content generated by the professionals in the room sharing their experiences, explained Veleisa Patton, MPI spokeswoman. The unconference sessions will have moderators, but the focus will be on the collective knowledge of the participants.

MPI’s popular Flash Point program is also returning. This innovative session features a series of 15-minute presentations by 10 experts from a variety of fields who bring their innovative and creative ideas to inspire meeting professionals.

And, MPI will introduce The Blitz this summer, an interactive environment created by venues, destinations, and other businesses, which is designed to be like a site visit. At The Blitz, attendees can get facts about a destination, site, or business and be entertained at the same time. Also, Market Square is a new area within the WEC Global Village where businesses can promote their brands and meet with meeting planners in a relaxed environment.

Keynoter and author Simon Sinek hopes to inspire attendees with his address, “Understand Your Why,” while performance expert Joe Calloway will talk about how to apply what you learned at WEC. There will also be an address by the founder of Clean the World, an organization that recycles hotel soap bars and shampoo and donates them to people in need. WEC attendees will have an opportunity to tour the Orlando-based Clean the World facility.

“We’re facing a new business paradigm in the meeting and event industry,” said Bruce MacMillan, president and chief executive officer, MPI. “There are truly new rules of engagement and ways to do business in our post-recession world,” he added. “That’s why we chose to redesign WEC this year instead of delivering the same WEC experience as we have for the last decade. “

WEC aims to deliver “more face-time with your partners, more brain-time for the latest ideas, more brand-time for your business story, and more you-time for your success,” said MacMillan.