WEC: You brought your hearts to San Francisco

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WEC: You brought your hearts to San Francisco

By Blair Potter | Jun 23, 2022

“When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.” The meaning of Tony Bennett’s most iconic song is clearly stated in the name: “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

By contrast, MPI’s 2022 World Education Congress (WEC), which concluded tonight with the Closing Rendezvous Celebration, clearly motivated a lot of people with big hearts to converge on the City by the Bay. The passion of our nearly 2,000 attendees (1,700 in person, almost 300 virtual) for each other, our industry and helping others (see below) was evident.

We seldom lead our post-WEC coverage with the MPI Foundation, and I think I know why: We’re all so accustomed to the great work the foundation does to benefit the meeting industry that it somehow doesn’t seem newsworthy. But we’re bucking that trend this time.

In partnership with Simpleview, the MPI Foundation was able to extend a special scholarship to Sofiya Kayinska, acting director of the Lviv Convention Bureau in Ukraine. Here, she discusses the importance of attending WEC San Francisco and talking with meeting professionals about how they can assist her country.

The foundation also raised more than $200,000 to fund education and industry research that drives the success of meeting professionals through its WEC initiatives—the Wellbeing Challenge, collectible pins, the President’s Dinner auctions/raffle, the silent auction and the Closing Rendezvous Celebration.

This WEC was redesigned from the ground up because tomorrow’s globally connected event audiences will need more than today’s engagement skillsets. Wellness elements were infused throughout, from physical (stretching/fitness) to mental/spiritual (white space and quiet areas) to career (career development sessions). There was a curated Tech Zone (tailored to specific needs), a wider variety of educational formats (smaller sessions, prioritized participation), student-led sessions, local products/Host Committee favorites to showcase the destination and celebrations of MPI’s 50th anniversary (including the 50 Influential, Up and Comer and Legacy members who are highlighted in The Meeting Professional). WEC attendees were the first to experience two new groundbreaking programs: the MPI Certified university endorsement program and the Emerging Meeting Professional (EMP) designation.

Daily general sessions were themed as acts, each having a focus intended to culminate in an overall story arc. Read much more about these sessions, including a high-level tech panel and inspirational keynote speakers Riaz Meghji, Denise Soler Cox and Brian Allan.

Night events included the aforementioned Closing Rendezvous Celebration, held at City Hall, and on-field activations and exclusive ballpark experiences at Oracle Park (home of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants). And speaking of big hearts: At the President’s Dinner, Brian Stevens of ConferenceDirect received the Meeting Industry Leader Award (read about his generosity in our profile). Also recognized at the dinner were the RISE Awards recipients and the 2021-2022 MPI chapter leaders.

Of course, one critical component of WEC is getting business done. Enter the Hosted Buyer program, which included 163 suppliers, 98 planners, more than 94 companies and 1,575 appointments. The MPI Exchange also collaborated with MPI Communities on a first-ever Community Exchange Live powered by Braindate—featuring one-on-one or small group conversations based on important topics chosen by participants.

Whether you joined us in San Francisco or (sadly) missed out, let’s do this again next year. See you at WEC 2023 in the Riviera Maya!



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Blair Potter

Blair Potter is director of media operations for MPI. He likes toys and collects cats (or is it the other way around?).