MPI Enhances Education, Breaks Records

Meeting Professionals International is committed to strengthening its educational offerings. That was the message conveyed by MPI's new president, Bob Moore (vice president of sales at the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau) during his opening remarks at MPI's World Education Congress, held in San Diego in mid-July. The conference drew a record-breaking 2,705 people.

Along those lines, MPI this year offered a full-day workshop on the strategic value and planning of meetings, designed for experienced meeting professionals. Also new is the Platinum Series educational programs that the association plans to roll out at the chapter level in early 1999. MPI is designing six three-hour programs on topics such as meeting planning technology, hotel contracts, and negotiating skills. The programs are designed to fill a growing need for education at the chapter level worldwide. Hilton Sales Worldwide will sponsor the program.

In other MPI news: The International Planner of the Year award went to James R. Daggett, CAE, CMP, president of his own meeting management firm and former director of education with the American College of Chest Physicians.

MPI now has more than 16,000 members in 62 countries. Next year's World Education Congress will be held July 11 to 13 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

In our news story "Academic CME Directors Challenge For-Profits' Accreditation," in the July/August issue, we wrote: The for-profits will take action, if their accreditation is threatened, says Donald S. Nelinson, PhD, vice president, educational services, Impact Communications Inc., in New York City. "We will defend our position as accredited sponsors very, very vigorously," he says, adding that a class-action lawsuit has been discussed as one of the strategies companies might take if they are stripped of their accreditation."

We have learned that some readers have interpreted this to mean that Don Nelinson and his company are leading a movement to begin a class-action suit. This is not the case. We want to make it clear that neither Don Nelinson nor his company, Impact Communications Inc., are interested in beginning a class-action lawsuit nor any other legal action against the SMCDCME, the ACCME, or any of its members. Nor has MECCA, the Medical Education Communication Company Alliance, a special interest group of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, actually proposed any such action.

THE EYES HAVE IT Congratulations to the American Academy of Ophthalmology for winning Medical Meetings' first Top Guides Contest with its 1997 Annual Meeting on-site program. The contest honored the most attendee-friendly program booklets. The editors judged entries on comprehensiveness, innovative design, and effective presentation. Watch for our story analyzing the AAO guide's winning features in the December issue. And thanks to all the associations that submitted such excellent entries!

And the Winner Is . . . Michael D. O'Donnell, director of CME, Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, has won Medical Meetings' 1998 Merit & Distinction Award. All readers who vote in our best hotels/resorts and conference centers contest are entered in a drawing to win a free vacation. O'Donnell has won a four-day, three-night accommodation and spa package for two at the Don CeSar Resort Spa in Florida, with roundtrip airfare provided by AmericaWest. Enjoy!

Do the entertainers at your conferences really speak to your attendees' needs? Combining wacky humor with some serious validation, the Obertunes perform songs such as "These Hands," "CPR Opera," and "Intubation," written specifically to re-energize stressed-out health care practitioners. Every member of the Obertunes must be a health care worker so the group has credibility with attendees. "When we get off the stage, we are talking to peers," says founder Richard M. Obertots, who previously served as EMS-Trauma Service Coordinator for Sharon Regional Health System in Sharon, Pa.

The Obertunes, formed about 10 years ago, will perform at the 1999 annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association. The group has also performed at meetings of the Association of Air Medical Services, American College of International Physicians, and the International Conference on Pre-Hospital Emergency Care in Australia.

The group offers either an hour concert or a concert/seminar package. Programs are customized to meet the educational--and emotional--needs of the participants. Prices vary depending on the program, the number of attendees, and the degree of sponsorship the group can obtain.

And you don't have to feel left out when your attendees sing along to the "I.C.U. Rock." Meeting planners get their song, too. "Deck the halls with lots of exhibitors, fa la la la la . . . "

For more information, call the Obertunes at (330) 856-2246, or visit their Web site at www.obertunes.com.

The meeting industry can look forward to another boom year, according to the results of the 1999 Meetings Outlook Survey, conducted by the American Society of Association Executives, Washington, D.C.; and Meeting Professionals International in Dallas.

The 300 respondents included 150 corporate and 150 association planners--a big jump from last year's 100 respondents.

The availability of meeting space now ranks as a top concern for planners, a change from the early 1990s, when attendance was a primary concern.

What Association Planners Predict: * More Meetings: Association planners expect to hold 26 percent more meetings in 1999 than they did in 1998. The largest increase will be in regional meetings (15 percent), followed by international (14 percent), and national meetings (13 percent).

* Going Global: Seventy-one percent expect to hold meetings internationally. While England, Canada, and Mexico are the most popular destinations, respondents (both corporate and association) also are exploring other destinations for the first time, such as Russia, Israel, Germany, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Australia.

* Cyber Future: When asked to rank the most significant changes the industry will face in the next two years, 72 percent cited technology (such as videoconferencing, online registration, and online site selection). Sixty-one percent of association planners already use the Internet and Web sites to extend the learning experience beyond the on-site conference.