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One of the hotels at Barcelo Maya Riviera Resort, host of MPI's World Education Congress in June.

Meeting Professionals International Experiments with Annual Meeting

The just-completed World Education Congress went south of the U.S. border for the first time, while using a different type of host property and a revamped educational format.

With the post-pandemic environment for meetings and conventions allowing organizations to try some different ideas, Meeting Professionals International did just that with its World Education Congress, held from June 13 to 15.

First, MPI took the event outside of the U.S. and Canada for the first time, going to Barcelo Maya Riviera Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, 48 miles south of Cancun International Airport. MPI announced this destination choice in November 2021, near the end of the period when in-person events were still mostly absent from the business landscape.

WEC has taken place outside the U.S. four times, all in Canada (Toronto in 2002 and 2019, Montreal in 2007, and Vancouver in 2010), drawing crowds of between 2,600 attendees four years go to 3,700 in 2007, when the event had a trade-show component.

This year, though, attendance was just over 1,400 people in person, with about 600 being planners and 100 of those planners coming from Mexico, Central America, and South America.

MPI also used a different type of host property for WEC: an all-inclusive resort. Barcelo Maya Riviera Resort comprises five different hotels; MPI attendees were clustered in two of them that were close to the property’s 225,000-square-foot convention center. Also, one advantage of using a property in Playa del Carmen rather than a property in Cancun: the ability to host an opening-night reception at the nearby Xcaret ecological park and archeological site.

The third new dimension of WEC this year was that it featured a revised approach to educational programming: There were five general sessions and four keynotes across the two and a half days of education, in addition to about 95 breakout sessions. Previous MPI conferences had fewer general sessions and keynotes.

“WEC23 showcased how business learnings and connections can successfully take place in non-traditional settings, creating an event of many firsts,” MPI said in a statement.

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