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MPI #CoffeeTalk Provides Community

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By: Melanie Hudson | Apr 29, 2020

Our MPI Ottawa Chapter is offering a great way to deal with the coronavirus physical distancing measures that are currently causing so many industry professionals to feel socially isolated. Every Wednesday from 10 to 11 am, all members are invited to an informal Zoom meeting to share their experiences and hopes.

#coffeeTALK banner (1)

Back in March, Chapter President, Allison Collins, Account Director, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, encouraged each director on the board to stay in touch with their committee members and keep them engaged during the pandemic. Inspired by other MPI chapters, Director, Marketing, Disa-marie Cameron, Account Manager, FMAV, published a poll on the Chapter’s social media feeds asking members whether they would prefer a midweek coffee break or a happy hour timeslot to meet virtually. By a landslide, the morning option got the most votes. Feedback suggests that members working from home are trying to separate professional from private time, meaning they prefer to shut down their laptops by 5 pm and stop thinking about work.

So, on April 1 #CoffeeTalk was launched with about 18 people video calling in to the popular Zoom meeting platform to discuss “how are you creating/keeping structure to get the most out of your home work day?”. Cameron hosted and moderated this first session. She continues to moderate all the conversations, but she finds other outgoing volunteers with a history of supporting the Chapter to host.

The topic on April 8 was “what are you, your city and your business doing differently to adapt to our new normal?”. Hosted by Stephanie Lynch, CMP, CASE, Business Development Account Manager, Edmonton Tourism, this session drew a good mix of planners and suppliers, 28 participants in total, into the discussion. Demonstrating one of the features of Zoom, Lynch separated the participants into breakout rooms for part of the hour, so everyone would have a chance to share their thoughts.

Photo 1 and 2 - Group Zoom Photo

Erin Bellwood, Event Manager, Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association and Director of Signature Events, MPI Ottawa, hosted the session on April 15. The topic was “what do you think our industry will morph into and what are your hopes for when it does recover?”. A record 36 participants joined the meeting, about half of whom were planners, including folks representing businesses from Charlottetown, Fredericton, Québec City, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and more. Ryan Young, Director of Sales & Marketing, Ottawa Marriott Hotel, Co-founder, MPI the EVENT, talked about the future of that meeting which was supposed to take place in Toronto this month. The organizing committee is considering various options and will make an announcement soon.

On April 22, participants will be invited to discuss “what will we do differently and how will we elevate our industry in a post-pandemic world?”. The host will be Anthony Vade, CED, Experience Architect at FMAV and Director Canada with Event Design Collective GmbH.

Jennifer Beatty, Director of Business Development, Meetings and Conventions Calgary, and Vice-Chair of Programs, MPI Global Board of Trustees will host #CoffeeTalk on April 29 when the topic will be “supplier and planner perspectives on what recovery will look like”. Beatty is rumoured to be planning to inject a “disrupter” component into the discussion.

Registration patterns suggest that the number of participants will continue to increase weekly; attendees often expressing appreciation for the opportunity to see familiar faces and support each other through these uncertain times. There is no registration required and members can find the login information on the Chapter website or any of the social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram). You can use your smartphone to snap a photo of the QR code and it will bring you directly to the Facebook event page.


Cameron suggests that if members show up with their true self and a willingness to contribute, they will leave with a sense of community and hope for a strong, albeit different, outlook for our industry.

Melanie-Hudson-headshot-2019 Article written by: Melanie Hudson, National Association of Federal Retirees

Article edited by Cynthia Beaudin, Canada Foundation for Innovation



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Melanie Hudson

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