The WEC Vegas Digital Experience: Final Day

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The WEC Vegas Digital Experience: Final Day

By Michael Pinchera | Jun 17, 2021

For the second consecutive year, WEC has offered a robust live digital experience. To help share a bit of what that experience is like, I’ve blogged about some of my own adventures each day of the event. Check out the other daily posts: Day 1, Day 2.

MPI’s Jessie States (director, MPI Academy) and Marcel Coleman (manager, Exchange programs) returned with the WEC Today Show for the event’s final day to deliver more exclusive content and insight to WEC Digital Experience attendees.

Todd Marinko, vice president of marketing, Encore, (role with Foundation?) popped in for an early chat with States about the importance of MPI Foundation’s achievements in financial support for community members—such as scholarships and MPI membership renewals. Visit the MPI Foundation’s website to see how they can help you with scholarships and grants and/or to see how you can help the Foundation and your peers. The Silent Auction (sorry—it wrapped up last night, but you can view the results) saw more than $17,000 bid on items such as an exclusive experience with Usher as well as memorabilia and vacation packages, and the auction lots were all also available to Digital Experience participants.

Sam Stanton, founding partner, Blue Nano Solutions—a tech innovator in the industry for decades—shared some of his excitement about how the industry has pivoted during the pandemic. He also pulled out a small, portable Blue Nano device that analyzes the air quality of meeting spaces. MPI actually used this in advance of WEC to check out the air inside of CAESARS FORUM, placing dozens of their wireless devices throughout the property. Blue Nano provides data on air flow and more to help planners ensure the safest experience for all while on site. And all of this was developed within the past 14 months! (Blue Nano also presented at the event’s final Tech Showcase later in the day.)

Blue Nano screen

Next up, Coleman welcomed Terri Breining, principal, Breining Group Inc., who received MPI’s Industry Leader Award at a special dinner the previous night, to get to know her more and share some advice for meeting professionals struggling with life and business during the pandemic and trying to determine what’s next.

“We will never get back to what we were; it’s really about what’s next and how can I contribute…not longing what used to be and trying to get back there, but looking at what’s next and saying, ‘Yes, I’ll try something new, why not?” Breining said.

Bonnie Carlson, president & CEO, Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau (incoming chair for MPI’s International Board of Directors) stopped by to talk about her priorities and plan for the year to come—an important time that will include MPI’s 50th anniversary!

Attending a diversity, equity and inclusivity meeting at WEC Vegas the day before, she said there are some amazing people coming up in this industry—and she can’t wait to see what incredible things they’ll be able to accomplish while driving the industry’s path into a successful future.

Some of the additional interviews during Day 3 of the WEC Today Show included Steve Enselein, senior vice president of events, Hyatt, talking about trends—notably some awesome F&B innovations, such as interactive food prep sessions for virtual audiences; Lakshman Rathnam, CEO and founder of Wordly Inc., explaining the AI-powered captioning and translation service used for the WEC Digital Experience; Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, CEO of High Impact Presentations, exploring effective use of social media and personal branding online; and more.

Prefaced with a live, onstage check-in of Digital Experience participants—many holding their adorable “fur babies”—the General Session segued into a performance by Penn & Teller. The first bit saw Darren Temple, MPI’s COO, outwitted by Teller with a card trick.

Penn Teller Temple screen

Next up, Todd Marinko, vice president of marketing for Encore and chair of the MPI Foundation’s Board of Trustees, offered up sewing needles in an apple, which were swiftly swallowed by Teller, with the performer’s mouth then examined up close to reveal no needles remained (a thread was then pulled out with all of the needles on it).

Teller Marinko screen

The General Session’s first main event involved a panel of some of the “Superwomen of Las Vegas.” Speaking with Michelle Allgauer, CAE, CMM, CMP, senior vice president of education and engagement, Financial Services Institute, guided these “superwomen” in telling their origins and mentors as well as sharing their personal insights to success.

The keynote by Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, brought to home the reality of what does and doesn’t make an employer exceptional. The idea behind all of this is that creating a better experience for your staff makes a better company makes a better world. The information he spelled out revealed the challenges organizations face with changing demographics—especially important as the meeting industry looks at a difficult near future for re-hiring all of the positions that, by necessity, had to be furloughed or eliminated during the pandemic, a time during which many professionals have re-evaluated what’s important in life. If you have a “meh” company or leader, those workers may not include their continued employment with you as important. Much of this, Bush said, comes down to the trust built by leaders—and then he shared a list of nine high-trust leadership behaviors, topped off by “listening,” “thanking” and “speaking.” He incredibly closed by saying, “Thank you for listening and thank you for what you’re about to do for the world.”

Later in the afternoon saw the MPI Town Hall in which association leadership answered attendee questions about topics ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion developments to MPI financials and new Foundation scholarships to partnering with other industry organizations.

In lieu of attending The MPI Foundation Rendezvous fundraiser, Digital Experience participants held a WEC Digital After Party using the Allseated virtual world platform. Those of a certain age might remember with amazement the first time they logged on to Second Life. Allseated is along the same lines but with a significant focus on using the space for virtual events.

In the coming days and weeks, all of the recorded content from the WEC Digital Experience will be available for viewing on-demand through the MPI Academy.



Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera is an award-winning writer and editor for The Meeting Professional as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997. Read more of his work at