The parade for the Toronto Raptors NBA championship wound through the city on Monday, just a block from the Toronto Convention Center where Meeting Professionals International’s 2019 World Education Conference was underway. While the celebration broke records by drawing more than a million people, MPI earned a record of its own: the highest attendance for WEC since the event stopped having a trade show a decade ago. Here are some of the strong stats from the June 16-18 event:
- 2,550: The number of attendees at the WEC in Toronto, about half of whom were meeting planners
- 89: The number of attendees who received a scholarship from the MPI Foundation to attend the WEC
- 200: The number of attendees who came to WEC as hosted buyers
- 80: The number of educational sessions held during the three-day conference
- 19: The maximum number of clock hours of continuing education credits a WEC attendee could earn if they attended an educational session in all possible time slots.
- $220,000: The amount raised at the MPI Foundation Rendezvous fundraiser. The Foundation will begin celebrating its 35th anniversary in July.
- 4: The number of years in the future MPI has announced locations for the WEC. The event will be in Grapevine, Texas in 2020; Las Vegas in 2021; San Francisco in 2022; and St. Louis in 2023.
At a press conference at the show, MPI leaders discussed the association’s accomplishments over the past year and its goals looking forward. Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO, pointed to new brand consistency for chapters around the world as one of the biggest achievements. “We’ve spent the past three years creating consistent branding, a consistent set of governance guidelines, and this year we finished that project with everyone getting on a single web platform across all of our chapters,” said Van Deventer, who noted that the next step will be getting all chapters on the same financial platform.
Other progress for the association this year:
- Increased training and support for chapter leaders
- New academic partnerships for the MPI Academy, which had 8,000 meeting professional participants in the last 12 months.
- A partnership with San Diego State University on the first graduate-level degree program in North America.
- A more intense focus on being part of the global effort to end human trafficking. MPI has increased member education about the issue and included it in its code of conduct.
Looking forward, Van Deventer said the association is working to differentiate itself with more targeted networking and educational opportunities. “We are a broad organization, and we have an incredibly diverse community. We want to recognize the power and value of that and not do everything in a homogenous manner. So, we’re creating two very targeted areas that will allow individuals to customize their experience with MPI.” There will be programs around specific niche areas, including medical, association, financial and insurance, experiential design, independents, and administrative planners. There will also be special interest groups that cut across the verticals for those interested in women’s issues and the LGBTQA community.
Among other priorities for the association is growing its membership in Europe, said Darren Temple, MPI COO, where it currently has about 1,200 members. “We have been hyper-focused on Europe,” he said. “We are focused on growing our brand, growing our partnerships. We’ve put resources on the ground with Angeles Moreno as our senior director of strategy for Europe. We are making in-roads. We are on an aggressive push to gain membership.”