Security, innovation and meeting design key themes for industry, says MPI

Paul VanDeventer, president and CEO of MPI, speaks to C&IT about this year's European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) and the challenges facing the industry.

How does this event compare to previous years?

It’s more interactive and creative than anything we’ve seen before, with a greater focus on meeting design and meetovation. We’ve also enhanced the focus on creative ways of networking. For example, on the first night we chose to take everyone to Copenhagen Street Food. It gave everyone a chance to mingle in a completely different way and get a taste of local culture. During the sessions we had a lot of managed interaction and personalisation of the content through our ‘write your story’ theme. All of our speakers have gone through training with professional storytelling experts, to help them deliver messages in the most creative, engaging way possible.

Why did you choose Copenhagen as a destination for the conference?

Firstly, Copenhagen is a very progressive convention bureau, and they really want to work with us and provide for the MPI community. Secondly, we’d been getting feedback that we’d been doing the same thing over and over again, so we really wanted to break the model. Copenhagen is the epicentre for the meetovation concept so it fits in well with our themes.

What are the greatest challenges to the events industry in 2016?

Global security is the biggest threat and challenge to the events industry. We need to continue finding innovative ways for people to meet face-to-face in a safe environment. The concern is that as the risk is elevated, people will feel less and less willing to travel to different events around the world. It puts the future of face-face meetings at risk and you squash the growth of business. The global economy is also still struggling. Companies are still finding it difficult to justify the ROI on events, which is another concern.

What are the key trends in the events industry?

We’re seeing the boom of secondary markets, due to the hotel constraints in primary markets. More secondary cities are building better infrastructure for events and meetings, and are attracting more business as a result. We’re also seeing changes in the countries that people are travelling to. For example, in Canada, their currency is becoming so devalued in some places that they’re rethinking where they take their meetings to. It’s actually cheaper for them to go to Europe than the US at the moment. The other area we need to work on is technology. Our workforce now has more millennials than ever before. Rather than saying 'don’t use your phone during a meeting’ we have to embrace technology and integrate it into events.

What’s the future for MPI?

We’ve got a very tight strategy around growing our professional development and enriching our educational offerings through different channels. We’ve been building that for the last year and half under the umbrella of the MPI Academy. The second target is to broaden our reach past dedicated event planners to people who are involved in the industry, but don’t necessarily specialise in it. Finally we’re looking to boost our individual chapters, to give members and volunteers a better experience.

More:

MCI EMEC 2016 kicks off in Copenhagen

Event planners don't understand threat of cyber hacking

In Pictures: EMEC 2016: Part 1

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