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Collaboration, Cultivation, Elevation – The Story of ‘the EVENT’


By: Ryan Young | Oct 29, 2019

Though with only 2 editions under its belt thus far, it is difficult to remember a time when the EVENT wasn’t part of our annual routine. Its inception goes back over 4 years, when the leaders from all Canadian Chapters got together at the annual MPI Chapter Business Summit in Plano, Texas. All sorts of discussions broke out on how to grow MPI in Canada and make it more relevant to its members; then someone asked the question “Why don’t we put on a joint Chapter event?”

Despite the obvious differences, including membership size, location and even language, the Montreal/Quebec, Ottawa and Toronto Chapters (a seemingly unlikely trio) joined forces with one common vision from the get go.


When there’s a gap, there’s an opportunity to innovate

We felt that there was an educational gap between what we were providing in our local Chapters versus what MPI was offering on a global level. Through education surveys with our members and discussions with our Chapter Boards we concluded that if we pooled our financial and volunteer resources, we could offer education and networking opportunities beyond what each individual Chapter could provide on their own.

The idea of a joint MPI Chapter event was by no means a new concept, but we were not just looking to execute the same old “conference” model. The market was already saturated with industry conferences that offered the same-old formats and the same recycled speakers that had been making the rounds amongst all the Chapters.

the EVENT 2019

Building the foundation

If we, as meeting professionals, were going to be putting on an event for industry peers, we knew we had to deliver something beyond the status quo. A 3-word tagline, which we spent a month deliberating on, became our guiding light in everything we did to shape this endeavour: Collaborate | Cultivate | Elevate.

Collaborate – three Canadian chapters sharing resources and coming together for one common goal. Encouraging the individuals and organizations alike to also find opportunities to collaborate in unlikely ways to achieve their collective goals.

Cultivate – incorporating formats and room set ups that nurtured the delivery of educational content and developed new and existing business relationships. Creating environments both physical and mental that are conducive for learning and networking.

Elevate – raising the bar on event design and debunking the traditional conference model with experiential labs, immersive experiences, peer-to-peer learning and new partnership model. Always questioning what had been done in the past and seek knowledge from experts in the industry to push event boundaries for the future.

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To disrupt or be disrupted

In a time where disruptive culture is all the rage and established industries are having to relook at their business models – think Netflix overtaking Blockbuster, the Uber vs. taxis battle or Amazon transforming the retail industry; it was inevitable that our industry was also primed for a bit of a shake-up. You have a choice, you can either be disrupted or be the disruptor.

In order to be successful, we knew that we needed to innovate and our goal was, and still is, to do things differently and push boundaries. We looked to deconstruct what people think of a typical “conference”. If traditional practices worked, we kept some of them; if they didn’t or we didn’t have a solid reason why they existed, we abandoned them. Our creative event movement would ultimately improve the way our Chapters and industry as a whole, meet. We recognized that the EVENT would push people out of their comfort zones but that was part of the bigger plan.

We never had thoughts of a one-off event; instead the initial plan was always to start with 3 events, over 3 years, in our 3 Chapter cities. As we embarked on our creative mission, what struck us the most was that those around us, partners, planners & suppliers and speakers alike were embracing these new ideas wholeheartedly. There was a great energy and stakeholders were jumping on the bandwagon even though the EVENT was completely untested and unknown. The ideas kept getting bigger and bolder and with everyone’s input, the EVENT concept and its disruptive nature continued snowballing into something bigger than we anticipated.

This had become a movement and now has every potential to continue to expand beyond the 3-year vision. How far can the EVENT go? A question only you, our industry peers, can answer. The goal remains, to create a lasting impact which will continue to grow so long as future industry leaders constantly innovate, challenge and inspire all those involved along the way.

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The cost of not taking risk

The EVENT took risks so that others could learn from them.  Admittedly, some risks failed, but the ones that succeeded inspired attendees to make changes to their own events, which ultimately creates a spiral of change in the meetings industry. 

Here are some of our favorite takeaways:

  • Don’t be afraid to take risks, they will pay off;
  • Follow what people do and not what they say, if you build it, they will come;
  • Teamwork matters, take advantage of everyone’s strengths (committee volunteers, Partners, Speakers);
  • Push the limits, dream big and don’t lose sight of having fun along the way.

After two successful years (2018 @ Brookstreet Hotel in Ottawa and 2019 @ Hotel Bonaventure in Montreal) which counts over 600 attendees, 50 Speakers, 40 Partners and 200 BrainDates; we know we’ve created something special! As we head into our 3rd and final edition of our first full EVENT volume, which is set to take place at the Westin Prince in Toronto on April 2-4, 2020, we are extremely excited to see what the incredibly diverse and dedicated event designing team pulls off. Mark your calendars now; we are expecting a sell out!

the EVENT 2020 Registration

Will you be joining the Creative Event Movement with us?

Ryan Young
Director of Sales, Brookstreet Hotel
Co-Founder of the EVENT                         

Marie-France Watson
Manager, Academic & International Conferences, Concordia University
Co-Founder of the EVENT

Tim Whalen                                              
Executive Meeting Manager, Fallsview Casino Resort
Co-Founder of the EVENT

Article edited by: Darlene Kelly-Stewart, Stonehouse Sales & Marketing Services

the EVENT - 2019



Ryan Young

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