QUICK TALK

An interview with Paul Van Deventer, MPI President and CEO about what will be some of the highlights of MPI this year and his thoughts on what is the legacy of EMEC2019, organised by MPI.

Q: What are MPI highlights this year?

We are focused on supporting the professional development of our members, developing innovative programs for our community, raising the awareness of our industry, and fighting inequality including creating a welcoming and safe environments for all at business events and advancing the fight to end child sex trafficking.

We are also committed to growing our international community by focusing on strengthening our value story and expanding our global community through partnering with local MPI chapters and select industry-leading organizations. To inform our efforts we have launched strategic advisory councils in Europe, Canada and Latin America, to guide MPI’s strategy, as well as our investments in education, events and member support.

And the MPI Academy is delivering unparalleled education and expanding our professional development offerings and educational partnerships with leading educational institutions, including collaborating with the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS) Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality on the design of a graduate-level course titled “Convention and Exhibition Management;” partnering with the University of Virginia on offering courses from Darden’s Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation program, and launching with San Diego University the first graduate-level degree program in the United States for meeting and event management, which will incorporate experiential learning, simulations, and industry partner mentoring.

June 14-18 MPI will be in Toronto for our signature event, World Education Congress  (WEC19), where attendees will experience state-of-the-art event design, unparalleled education, and productive networking. This year’s event builds on the theme and successes that took place at WEC18 in Indianapolis (which was recognized by Eventex as the best association meeting of 2018), “Stop Planning Meetings – Start Designing Shared Experiences.”

We are also telling the story of the power of the Meeting and Event industry while striving to make MPI, the meeting industry and the world a better, more equitable place for women and every group of people that are marginalized in any way. As our membership is a diverse community, including nearly 80% women and citizens of 70 countries, we continue to be on the forefront of gender equality, support of women leadership and raising awareness of the importance of Diversity and Inclusion at all live events.

On April 4 we signed the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) for the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. The Code is the only voluntary set of business principles travel and hospitality companies can implement to prevent child sex tourism and trafficking of children. The Code is a joint venture between the tourism private sector and ECPAT-USA, a worldwide network of organizations working to end the sexual exploitation of children.

In 2019, we will continue to strengthen our partnerships and collaborations with key organizations including IMEX, Destinations International (DI), International Association of Exhibition and Events (IAEE), Events Industry Council (EIC), Meetings Means Business, Society for Travel Incentive (SITE), and the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), as together we tell the story of the many positive impacts of the $1.1 trillion dollar live events industry.

WEC 2018

Q: What have been some challenges you have faced over the past years?

Over the years, MPI has seen challenges that range from raising our brand awareness beyond our core industry, developing relevant and timely education that resonates with our community, providing innovative events and networking opportunities, and enhancing the value of our chapters network.

Q: Where are you positioning your marketing efforts this year and next?

While we continue to use all our media platforms to raise awareness and elevate our footprint from a global perspective, we are especially focused on enhancing our presence and community support in Europe. As the largest association in Europe with over 1,200 members, the potential for community engagement, as well as membership growth is very high. This summer we will launch a robust media campaign to build awareness in the meeting professional community and create buzz and excitement for membership. At launch, the campaign will focus on the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

Q: What is the most positive thing about the meetings industry in 2019?

Event designers and attendees are looking beyond the impact that events have on attendees, to what impact events can have on pressing social issues. We see attendees looking for experiences that not only help them professionally, but also contribute to their personal growth and drive societal improvements. And attendees are looking for “shared experiences,” which happens to be our theme for this year’s World Education Congress (WEC) conference.

EMEC 2019 (Photo credit: Ramon van Jaarsveld – Clickshots)

Q: What are your plans for EMEC 2020 in Sevilla?

We are excited to be hosting the 2020 European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC20) in Sevilla. The event will be designed and created by Europeans for Europeans, with support from MPI’s European staff, Angeles Moreno and Federico Toja.

As we did at EMEC19 in The Hague, we will continue to “change the game” to create a vibrant and innovative event. Beginning with the design process itself we will utilize the #EventCanvas methodology for EMEC20, engaging European members, past volunteers, chapter leaders, and others to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive design process.

These design sessions will take place in Spring 2019. We’ll be sharing updates on MPI’s social channels and the EMEC20 website.

Q: What is the legacy of EMEC 2019?

MPI has held an annual conference in Europe since 1988. Originally known as Professional Education Conference-Europe (PEC-E), the event was rebranded in 2008 as the European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC). Over the years, EMEC has offered professionals in Europe a platform to connect, learn, and gain new understandings of their profession, MPI and the industry’s role in the world.

At EMEC2019, we were able to take the historical success of our signature European event and make it more interactive and innovative. Through thoughtful event design and a focus on crafting unique, personalized and impactful experiences, EMEC19 was able to unite a global audience in a high-energy learning experience which showcased how our community can truly “change the game.”