Attendees Embrace the Spirit of Exploration & Discovery at EMEC20

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Attendees Embrace the Spirit of Exploration & Discovery at EMEC20

By Rich Luna | Feb 12, 2020

"Pushing Boundaries," the theme of Meeting Professionals International’s signature European Meetings and Events Conference, had resonated in many different ways with attendees when the three-day education and networking event ended Tuesday in Sevilla, Spain.

Manuel Macias Moreno, director of the Seville Congress and Convention Bureau, which organized the conference, said his team did things they had never done before.

Carmen Valenzuela, owner of Horsense, who used her horses to inspire attendees through a learning journey focused on leadership, told her groups to question their expectations about the conference. “That’s a great question to start with; to look inside yourself and think about your intent with this activity. What are you really looking for at your conference?”

The best example of pushing boundaries, however, may have been through four attendees—Suzy Krol, Roël Frissen, Lizzy Matthews and Taru Maija—who had the courage to get up on stage during the closing session with keynote presenter Dear World to share their personal, powerful and inspirational stories about defining moments in their lives.

“Sharing stories takes a lot of courage,” said Keshia Hannam of Dear World, which guides participants to look within to find that meaningful moment about themselves and create a theme to include in a photo.

“Every message is relevant to a story that only that person can tell,” Hannam said. “What was special about this event was seeing you, you who have devoted yourselves to creating space and events, sharing and showing up in so many ways for each other.”

Embracing the Spirit of Exploration & Discovery

The nearly 300 meeting industry professionals at the 31st EMEC spent three days absorbing the spirit of Sevilla, the place where 500 years ago Iberian explorers Magellan and Elcano set sail, returning three years later having completed the first circumnavigation of the globe. It was with that spirit of exploration and discovery that EMEC planners built an education platform around pushing boundaries, from four learning journeys—leadership at an Andalusian horse ranch, managing stress through a program at Airbus, creating sessions that explore social impact with the Alala Foundation, and storytelling through the majesty of the Teatro de la Maestranza—to shared dinners hosted in the homes of Sevilla residents.

“This is a very sad and happy moment,” Macias said. “We had fantastic days with you. We really have pushed our boundaries in this event, doing things we have never done before.”

That included him playing guitar in front of the attendees during the opening general session at Pabellón de la Navegación, built to honor the scientific expeditions, discoveries and advances in naval technology from Sevilla. This was the third time EMEC has been in the Andalusian region.

EMEC20 Highlights

The final day of education at EMEC focused on presenting the highest-rated education sessions from Monday as part of the Best of EMEC series, as well as a Master Class in designing authentic experiences, stress-management and decision making before the closing session with Dear World.

The MPI Foundation had its Rendezvous event at La Raza Puerto Sevilla and raised more than $12,000 to support scholarships, grants and industry research.

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO at MPI, announced that MPI and the IMEX Group have agreed to continue their relationship as strategic partners.

“It has blossomed into the most important strategic relationship MPI has,” Van Deventer said, playing off Ray Bloom, the founder and chair of IMEX.

“We are thrilled to be in this partnership,” Bloom said, “a partnership between friends.”

Leadership training, inspiration and networking were key themes for nearly 30 chapter leaders who participated in the European Chapter Leader Forum designed to help the volunteer leaders gain new tools for engagement with their chapters.

“Europe is important for MPI and we’ll never take Europe for granted,” Steve O’Malley, chair of MPI’s International Board of Directors told the chapter leaders. “We will continue to invest in Europe.”

Van Deventer addressed the chapter leaders, reinforcing the message of MPI’s commitment to initiatives in Europe. He said that Angeles Moreno, who was appointed MPI's strategic development senior advisor for Europe during last year’s EMEC, will leave that role as her private business demands have increased.

Moreno previously served as chair of the European Advisory Council, which is now chaired by Pieter Allaerts (MPI Belgium Chapter). Europe also has representation on the IBOD through board members Miguel Neves (MPI Scandinavia Chapter) and Antonio Dusseschi (MPI Italia Chapter). Krzysztof Celuch (MPI Poland Chapter) serves on the GBOT.

“Europe is critical to us,” Van Deventer said. “We’ve looked at new ways to tailor education for Europe and continue to invest resources.”

He added the success of the European Advisory Council has led to the development of similar councils in Canada and Latin America.

The chapter leaders were joined at the end of their sessions by members for the first ever Community Meet Up in Europe, where members identified areas of interest that align with MPI’s communities such as independent and small business owners, medical meeting planners, MPI women, association planners, financial and insurance planners and others.

Anna Leonik (MPI Poland Chapter), a third-year student at the Warsaw School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, won the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge, earning the right to compete at IMEX in Frankfurt in May. Regional winners from six selected forums advance to compete in Frankfurt for a trip to MPI’s World Education Congress in June or next year’s EMEC.

Next Up: EMEC21

The boundaries of EMEC will push to the shores of England in 2021 as the education event will be held in Brighton, England. Visit Brighton, Visit Britain, the IMEX Group and Hilton Brighton Metropole are the primary sponsors.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.