The Convention Industry Council held its annual gathering of Certified Meeting Professionals in Cancun, Mexico, May 9–11, at the Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort. About 200 CMPs, along with sponsors and guests, traveled to the Yucatán for the first CMP Conclave outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Highlights from a strong lineup of sessions included a panel discussion on Cancun’s experience hosting COP 16, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in December 2010. Panelists offered an inside perspective on the hugely complicated logistics of the two-week event that drew 15,000 official delegates, including 21 heads of state and 4,000 members of the media. Patricia Farías-Barlow, COO of the new Cancunmesse convention center, which opened sixth months early to accommodate COP 16, discussed the sustainable systems built into her facility (which offers 260,000 square feet of indoor meeting space). Enrique Martin del Campo of Palace Resorts’ Moon Palace, the COP 16 headquarters hotel, and Annabelle Ramos Rodriguez, groups and conventions, Centro Banamex, reviewed their roles coordinating everything from food and beverage and transportation to telecommunications and simultaneous translation for the high-profile mega-event.

A second high-interest panel discussion organized for the CMP Conclave introduced attendees to a major report analyzing the economic impact of face-to-face meetings, and encouraged them to help spread the word in their organizations and their industries. “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy,” conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of industry organizations, was released earlier this year, and PwC’s Rob Canton, director of convention, sports, and tourism, was on hand at the Conclave to explain some of the key numbers. The report, he said, reveals the meetings industry as an economic engine for the U.S., supporting 1.7 million jobs, generating $25 billion in tax revenues, and putting $253 billion into the U.S. economy.

CIC added a twist to the Conclave this year in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Certified Meeting Professional designation. Organizers invited attendees to form groups for a special on-site project: design a magazine cover reflecting the CMP’s past and its future. With no constraints other than needing to incorporate a CMP logo, brainstorming commenced over coffee breaks and meals, and seven groups formed to take the challenge. The winning cover headline: “The Many Faces of the CMP… Mosaic, Innovation, Transformation.”

One of the priorities of the Conclave is to get input on the CMP examination. During a three-hour CMP review session, attendees are asked to analyze exam questions and consider them against current reference materials. Then, on the final afternoon of the conference, attendees have the option to earn continuing education credits (beyond those earned by attendance at the Conclave) for taking a 100-question mock CMP exam, which gives CIC data on new questions that it’s designed for future CMP exams.