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Education Events: A Look Back at the MPI Ottawa Round Table Sessions

Post Round Tables Write Up

By: Desmond Lomas | May 6, 2020

The MPI Ottawa Chapter Round Tables Sessions held on March 3, 2020 at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier was truly a memorable event…not only for its educational content but also because it was the last chapter event before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its devastation on our industry. Some of us had a sense of fear about the virus that was starting to ravage countries around the world, but we had no idea what impact this was going to bring to our lives and our profession. On that day, some of us were growing concerned and trying to assess the effect on our upcoming events, but none of us could have imagined the deluge of cancellations that would follow.

Rounds Tables 4 

There we were on March 3, networking with our fellow MPI members, happily comparing notes on future projects; many of us were still greeting each other with handshakes and hugs, blissfully unaware or perhaps just hopeful that the virus wouldn’t hit Canada hard. There were conversations around the room about this mysterious coronavirus, but these troubles were in faraway lands. Yet, just a couple weeks later, the cases in Canada were no longer only travel-related and showed evidence of “community spread”. Events in Canada started cancelling in droves and soon some of our colleagues sitting at those very tables would be laid off. On March 21, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier made national news when it closed its doors for the first time in its 108-year history.

But during the luncheon, we were full of pride about how the event’s educational content was derived from volunteers. We boasted about how much knowledge and experience exists within our chapter. We were amazed at how the round table facilitators were so effective and professional.

Rounds Tables 1 

Andrew Horsfield from the Lord Elgin Hotel confidently guided a conversation on sales techniques (old school versus new school), unaware that many of us would soon would be cancelling more events than booking them. Disa-marie Cameron of FMAV expertly lead a dialogue on “Demystifying AV and Cutting through the Tech Talk” not knowing that most of the projectors in Canada were about to go dark.

Jay Elie of Strategic Site Selection deftly facilitated the session entitled “Contracts: New Trends and Strategies”. Force majeure was a popular topic and whether it would be applicable in the context of this looming virus. In early March, Canadian governments had not yet prohibited public gatherings, so cancellation fees were still applicable. That would all change in a matter of weeks. Nicole Jeffrey, CMP with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association hosted “From the Basics to Beyond: Taking Your Trade Show to the Next Level” and provided details about the CPMA’s complex convention. Sadly, Jeffrey’s event would be cancelled before the end of the month.

Rounds Tables 2

Stephanie Lynch, CMP, CASE of Edmonton Tourism brought her expertise to the discussion of “Creating Effective Activations”. Participants left the session excited to incorporate Lynch’s ideas in their next events, not knowing that these next events would not be happening. Paul Glover, CMP of the Canadian Bar Association lead a talk on “Getting your CMP: What's in it for me?” One of Ottawa’s experts on the CMP program, Glover could not have realized at that time how much more impactful this session would become.

Rounds Tables 3

In fact, all the round table topics were tremendously impactful because education, now more than ever, is vitally important for us to bridge this chasm of the unknown that we now face. We need to discover new ways to sell, different uses of technology, clearer worded contract clauses, redesigned exhibit and meeting spaces, and unique sponsorship ideas and activations. Now more than ever, we need MPI Ottawa for its collective knowledge and experience to see us through these challenges until the time we can meet again!

2019_MLP_Lomas_004_web Article written by Desmond Lomas, Director Global Accounts for Howes Group

Article edited by Melanie Hudson, National Association of Federal Retirees



Desmond Lomas

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