The Making of MPI’s EMEC20

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The Making of MPI’s EMEC20

By Miranda van Brück, CED | Jun 7, 2019

It has been three months since we said farewell to those who participated in the exciting and locally organized 2019 MPI European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) in The Hague. And what a conference it was! It surprised, it connected and it truly changed the game. A tough act to follow…

So how do you go about the design of the next edition shortly after wrapping up such a highly successful event?

Welcome to ‘’The Making of’’ EMEC20 in Sevilla, Spain! 

The very first decision we made was an atypical one. It focused on involving a much larger group of people in the design process and immediately became one of our main objectives: Designed for and by European members of the meetings and events community.

We decided to organize—with the help of Roel Frissen from the Event Design Collective--four design sprints, in which we involved 65 meeting and event professionals to help design the next edition of this flagship event.

  • The Amsterdam Design Sprint team consisted of core team members of EMEC 2019. They were joined by design enthusiasts from Belgium and several ‘’champions’’ of five previous EMECs. This group had lived and breathed EMEC and ensured the collective historical knowledge of this event was tapped into.

  • Two Online Design Sprints followed, involving European and North American event designers and members of the MPI community and MPI staff. Also, several non-members were invited to provide their unique perspective.

  • The Sevilla Design Sprint gathered the local Spanish community and brought the unique local perspective and stakeholder analysis.


What an experience! Rich conversations, challenging assumptions, pushing boundaries and many laughs. By using the Event Canvas, we were able to take a systematic and structured approach to collecting the wisdom of 65 international meeting and event professionals! A truly unforgettable experience!

Four Design Sprints later, we returned home with tons of information, six event prototypes and a never-ending list of ideas. Help! So now what?

The answer is consolidation, consolidation, consolidation—and some help from meeting and event pro rock stars!

In three subsequent sessions, a smaller team was able to consolidate all information and distil the essence of the design sessions, and with that develop the essence of the Design of EMEC20!

EMEC20, Feb 9-11, 2020, Seville – Spain – THE FINAL DESIGN

Internal promise / objectives:

  • Ensure a sustainable event both financially and culturally.

  • Locally flavoured, but transferable to other marketplaces.

  • Designed for and by European members of the meetings and events community.

  • EMEC becoming the incubator for roll out at other signature events.

The theme: Pushing the Boundaries

Building on last year’s theme of “Changing the Game” but taking it to the next level. Not necessarily redesigning everything but pushing the boundaries of what we tested in The Hague and building on it. 

EMEC20 Push Boundaries

The storyline: In the footsteps of….
Exactly 500 years ago (1519), Iberian explorers Magellan and Elcano set sail from Seville with a fleet of five ships. Three years later, only one of the ships returned to Spain, with 18 remaining crew members. But they had achieved an astonishing maritime feat:

the first circumnavigation of the Earth—proving the Earth is actually round.

The call to adventure:
As part of the design process, the team developed 11 Design principles, which will provide guidance in the planning process. At the same time, these principles will be used as a Call to Adventure, and through 11 questions we envision making people curious about the event and giving them a glimpse of what can be expected—but without sharing the entire story, as the key is SURPRISE!

Here is a little taster of these principles.

Have you ever had a HOMECOOKED MEAL in Seville?
No? Then make sure to join your tribe at EMEC and sign up for an authentic culinary ‘’meet and eat’’ experience with a local Sevillian in their private house!

Does your FAMILY understand what you do?

This seems to be the story of the life of every event professional. Every time you explain to someone what you what you do for a living, you find out that they either “also know someone who organizes weddings” or you get a blank stare. Even your own family has a hard time understanding what it is you do! At EMEC in Seville we want you to take your family along so that they can get an understanding of what you do for a living AND at the same time you can spend some quality time together enjoying Seville.  

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

  • Have you ever flown a fighter jet as part of a stress management course? At EMEC you’ll have an opportunity to be a fighter pilot for a day and take home valuable lessons in Stress Management and Decision Making Under Pressure!

  • Do you want to FEEL what leadership is, instead of reading about it? Then let the Spanish Carmen take you to a nearby ranch with Andalusian horses and learn about leadership in a VERY DIFFERENT way using the horse-assisted HorseDream methodology.

Hopefully this has made you curious! So on behalf of the 65 designers of EMEC20 and Team MPI, I would like to invite you to accept our Call to Adventure and start exploring how you can push your boundaries at EMEC20 in Sevilla!

Registration is open and space is limited, so wait no longer and secure your spot now!

See you in Sevilla! 



Andrea Williams
Miranda van Brück, CED

Miranda van Brück, CED
Program Director, Events
Meeting Professionals International