Press Conference Recap: MPI at WEC San Francisco

Press Conference Recap: MPI at WEC San Francisco

MPI leadership recaps WEC, EMEC and the past 12 months, along with future global strategies, innovative programs, partnerships and the MPI Foundation. 


  • Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO, MPI
  • Annette Gregg, Chief Revenue Officer, MPI
  • Bonnie Carlson, MPI International Board of Directors Chair and President and CEO, Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Gary Schirmacher, MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees Chair and Senior Consultant, Talent Acquisition, Maritz Global Events


Drew Holmgreen, Chief Brand Officer, MPI

World Education Congress Recap

World Education Congress (WEC) is the signature annual North American event for Meeting Professionals International (MPI). Now in its 26th year, WEC typically attracts upwards of 2,500 event industry professionals and has most recently been held in the following locations:

  • 2017: Las Vegas, NV
  • 2018: Indianapolis, IN
  • 2019: Toronto, ON (Canada)
  • 2020: Grapevine, TX
  • 2021: Las Vegas, NV

WEC is consistently sought out by destinations, as it allows each to showcase their venues and ability to deliver top-flight events. In its last pre-pandemic issuance, WEC Toronto was attributed to generating more than $11.2 million in economic impact for the destination post event, as per Destination Toronto.

Using innovative event design and safety measures, MPI has been the only industry association to successfully hold two live/hybrid, in-person annual conferences – WEC Grapevine and WEC Vegas – during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marking a fourth consecutive year of global recognition for event design and execution, WEC Vegas was recently awarded a Bronze Award by Eventex for Association Meeting. A full recap from WEC Vegas can be found here. To view the WEC Grapevine documentary that was created, click here.

In 2022, MPI brought its signature event back to the Bay Area for its third time and first since 2015, which received among the highest attendee registrants in WEC history. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and battling global economic challenges, WEC San Francisco had nearly 2,000 total participants with the large majority – close to 1,700 – attending live, in-person, and almost 300 virtually.

With 98 planner participants taking part in the WEC San Francisco hosted buyer program, it totaled 1,575 appointments spread across 163 suppliers representing 94 companies.

WEC San Francisco was designed around MPI’s organizational strategic approach to “think global” – a reflection on how our community consider all angles, perspectives and ideals when conceptually delivering the needs of the business events industry. Aligning that approach with the San Francisco destination brand, WEC’s theme was to “step on through the gateway to the new era of events”.

Similar to previous years, MPI has maintained a key focus on attendee safety while ensuring there is no sacrifice in participant experience. Transitioning from the past two years – where a hybrid event was the key focus – WEC San Francisco was designed solely around the in-person experience, while layering on a virtual option free for MPI members.

Carrying forward MPI’s WEC promise to “take risks so you don’t have to”, participants was embedded in a three-act experience that delivered immediately actionable and impactful content each day through engaging General Sessions and concurrent education. WEC’s professional development was focused on delivering a daily theme. General Sessions specifically featured thematic conversations and keynotes.

  • Act 1: New World, New Perspectives
  • Keynote: Riaz Meghji, Every Conversation Counts
  • Tech Talks – Secrets of the Event Technology Marketplace: Ben Chodor (Notified), Leonard Chung (Cisco), Chuck Ghoorah (Cvent)
  • Act 2: Your Pathway to Professional Enlightenment
  • Keynote: Denise Soler Cox, The Magic of Belonging
  • Test, Iterate and Go Big, Designing Experiences That Matter: Suzanne Fritz Hanson (GPJ), Katy D’Amico (Cisco), Pamela Gonzalez (Salesforce), Polly Israni (Google Cloud)
  • Act 3: Past, Present & Future—Your Call to Action
  • Keynote: Brian Allan, Stand Up – Awaken the Superhero in You
  • When We Meet, We Change the World…But How?: Amanda Armstrong (Encore), Bonnie Carlson (Bloomington CVB), Kevin Iwamoto (Bizly), Zoe Moore (Grow with Zomo), Dan Noyce (IMEX)

Evening events continued to carry forward the WEC tradition of providing destination-specific activity that brought the entire MPI community together in an engaging and fun environment for networking and fun at spectacular local venues.

  • June 21, Opening Ceremony: Oracle Park sponsored by Giants Enterprises
  • June 22, Presidents Dinner: Hilton Union Square, Honoring MPI Chapter Presidents and Brian Stevens
  • June 23, Rendezvous Closing Ceremony: San Francisco City Hall, benefiting the MPI Foundation and sponsored by SFTravel


    Future WEC locations were recently announced, including:

  • 2023: WEC Mexican Caribbean (June 12-15; details at
  • 2024: WEC Louisville (dates TBD)
  • 2025: WEC St. Louis (dates TBD)
  • 2026: WEC San Antonio (dates TBD)

Full details on WEC San Francisco can also be found by visiting

  • 90% predict favorable business conditions for the next 12 months
  • 85% of respondents expecting positive live attendance growth over the next year
  • 54% say they’re experiencing difficulty filling job vacancies
  • 64% expect business to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 or later
  • 56% say the pandemic has fundamentally altered the value proposition of in-person events

To view the complete report, please click here.

MPI Strategy and Business Update

Two-Year accomplishments

Recognizing the challenges that the business events industry has experienced in the past two years, MPI detailed some of its key accomplishments that included:

  • New and relevant professional development content, delivering over 1,000 hours of MPI Academy educational programming to 36,000 participants – mostly complimentary.
  • An actionable commitment to social responsibility and support for ALL members led by the impactful work of MPI’s diversity, equity and inclusivity and anti-human trafficking committees as they guided MPI in its fight to end the wrongs of social injustice and horrors of human trafficking.
  • A stabilized financial balance sheet, ensuring MPI’s long-term financial sustainability.
  • A strong and committed advocacy plan to garner regulatory and financial support for the industry.
  • The MPI Foundation and its generous partners provided direct financial support to over 3,100 members, distributing over $1.2 million directly to the business events community.
  • A 12-month-plus celebration of MP’s 50th anniversary, kicked off in November 2021 at IMEX America and culminating at IMEX America in October 2022.

Strategic Planning Toward 2027

The MPI International Board of Directors, together with the MPI Executive Team, met in March in Palm Springs, CA to review the association’s strategic plan. The board confirmed aspirational goals based around continued global growth, enhanced community value and the long-term sustainability of MPI. The updated strategic plan and aspirational goals are targeted for completion in 2027. They include:

  • Community size: 250,000
  • Customer base: 40,000
  • Outside North America revenue: 20%
  • Affiliate partners: 20+
  • Financial performance
  • Revenue: $20MM
  • EBITDA: $1.5MM
  • Cash reserves: $6MM
  • Satisfaction NPS standards
  • Community/members/volunteers: 40/50/55
  • Employees: 40

Global Membership Update

The association’s membership has seen a decline in size through the course of the past two years, yet a significant shift in composition. At nearly 12,000 members, MPI now features a majority base of planners (53%) followed by suppliers (36%), students (9%) and faculty (1%).

MPI has also experienced a slight shift in gender composition, moving from 80% female to 77% female.

Board Chair Elects

Incoming 2023 MPI International Board of Directors (IBOD) Chair will be Cleo Battle, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism. Jen Beatty, Director of Business Development, International for Tourism Calgary will be the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees (GBOT) Chair-Elect. A complete list of current IBOD and GBOT members can be found here.

MPI 50th Anniversary Celebration (MPI50)

Started in Marion Kershner’s basement 1972, this year marks MPI’s golden 50th anniversary.

Celebrations started in November 2021 at IMEX America, centered around the collection of individual stories of impact, personal accomplishments and more through the people who have made MPI the organization it’s become – MPI members. Through a partnership with Gather Voices, a digital video collection and repository platform, MPI has gotten nearly 300 video submissions.

In early 2022, an MPI50 task force composed of volunteers took charge of creating exclusive recognitions, each built by MPI members:

  • MPI50 Most Influential: 50 individuals who have been responsible for building and driving the business events industry
  • MPI50 Up & Comers: 50 individuals who will lead the next generation of business events
  • MPI50 Legacy Contributors: 50 individuals who have made MPI the organization it is today

These three groups of honorees were celebrated throughout WEC San Francisco with a devoted “walk of fame” on each floor of Moscone West.

WEC San Francisco also featured the MPI50 Museum, an engaging and interactive timeline documenting the accomplishments and history of MPI, along with artifacts on display.

MPI also recognized leaders of the organization who have passed over the years and the organization’s past presidents. The celebration onsite at WEC also recognized the MPI Community of Honorees, a robust grouping of past chapter leaders, board members and more.

The MPI50 celebration will come to a close at IMEX America in October 2022.

Social Responsibility

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For those suffering from systematic inequalities, devotion to and advocacy for equity and inclusion has long been a high priority for MPI since its inception, and included among its core organizational principles.

MPI will maintain its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion through support and actions that offer awareness and resources towards putting an end to systematic racism, specifically among the events community. From devoted education to action-oriented tools and a website with curated content, all championed by MPI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the association will offer ongoing guidance to help elevate and promote equality.

Human Trafficking Awareness

In 2019, MPI signed on with ECPAT-USA, the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children. Through pledged support, MPI has utilized its awareness channels to heighten visibility on human trafficking and provided actionable resources to its entire community – including toolkits, communications and a devoted web page.

MPI will continue to advocate for the eradication of human trafficking, recognizing that the pandemic did very little to slow its unfortunate impacts.

Chapter Investment

MPI continues to invest in its chapter leaders. A new approach on the chapter design is being explored by MPI executive staff and the IBOD with a focus on ensuring our chapter leaders have the tools and resources to be successful and fulfilled in their volunteer leadership.

MPI Events Updates

IMEX Frankfurt (May 2022)

After having been shelved for two years, IMEX Frankfurt recently took place in May 2022 and MPI was onsite with more than 20 education sessions, four community meet-ups and a reception. MPI’s presence successfully took place in coordination and partnership for the first time with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

Additional Frankfurt Events

European Business Events Forum (EBEF)

With the postponement of the 2022 European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC), MPI held a first-of-its-kind roundtable half-day educational forum on the Monday preceding IMEX Frankfurt. With nearly 50 participants, the forum included engaging facilitated discussions focused on the future of business events across Europe, including how to gain and retain young talent.

European Chapter Leaders Forum (ECLF)

Also occurring the Monday before IMEX Frankfurt officially kicked off, MPI once again held ECLF, which hadn’t occurred in-person since EMEC Sevilla in February 2020. With 35 chapter leaders from across Europe, the half-day session was focused on a variety of leadership topics ranging from chapter business management to membership, marketing and more.

European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) Brighton

After two years of postponements, MPI is thrilled to (finally) host EMEC Brighton, March 26-28, 2023.

Now entering its 33rd year, and serving as the signature European event for MPI, EMEC brings upwards of 500 event professionals from across Europe each year with destinations that have recently included:

  • 2016: Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2017: Krakow, Poland
  • 2018: Rome, Italy (Global Forum conducted cooperatively with SITE)
  • 2019: The Hague, The Netherlands
  • 2020: Sevilla, Spain

EMEC has long been founded on the principles of serving as an idea incubator for the worldwide events community that offers distinctive flavoring by its local destination and is planned and designed by the European community for the European community. Awarded with multiple global recognitions including a 2019 BEA and 2021 Gouden Giraffe, much of the event design that comes through EMEC is often incorporated at a grander scale for WEC and picked up by peer organizations.

Ongoing details for EMEC Brighton can be found here. Future locations are currently in RFP.

IMEX America Smart Monday

In October 2022, MPI will once again continue with its full day of education during the Monday preceding IMEX America. While the format and sessions are currently in development, this cornerstone of the IMEX-MPI strategic partnership includes a multitude of concurrent education sessions. Additionally, MPI will again procure and conduct daily keynote sessions at the event, which is taking place for the second year in a row at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

MPI Academy Updates

MPI Academy has launched the industry’s first designation that differentiates and elevates emerging professionals who want to set themselves apart when seeking employment. Individuals with the Emerging Meeting Professional designation signify that they possess mindsets indicative of the realities and competencies that make a meeting professional successful. What is special about this designation is that it does not only apply to college students of a certain age.

MPI Academy certificate earners can now add meta-data badges to their online portfolios and resumes, display them on LinkedIn and share them on social media to prove their skills and certifications. In essence, individuals can build a living transcript of their MPI professional development education.

And finally, the all-new MPI Certified program helps colleges and universities evaluate their overall effectiveness and align their curricular models to best practice industry standards. MPI Certified endorsed programs will prepare graduates to enter the workforce with a set of specialized and critical skills, mitigating against automation in the meeting and events business sector. Future employers will have the confidence that graduates of MPI Certified programs are highly qualified and ready to face the workforce demands of today and tomorrow.

For more information on the MPI Academy, visit

MPI Foundation (MPIF) Update

WEC is a KEY fundraiser for the MPIF. Through the below activations, the Foundation was able to raise almost $200,000, surpassing its goal by 68%.

  • Caesars/Maritz/Giants Heka Challenge
  • Allows participation for those at home AND in-person
  • Silent Auction
  • Presidents Dinner, which featured silent auction and raffle items
  • An annual WEC closing night tradition, Rendezvous benefiting the MPI Foundation

Starting in April 2020, the MPI Foundation immediately mobilized for the benefit of the community, in particular MPI membership. In the months since, the Foundation gave back more than $1.1 million in scholarship and grant funding, benefiting more than 3,100 members. The huge majority of those beneficiaries were in the form of membership renewal grants issued directly to members in financial distress and new member grants provided for Chapters to allocate towards prospective and current members also facing financial concerns.

During GMID 2022, the MPI Foundation offered matching funds to be used exclusively towards Ukrainian hospitality students finishing their studies in Poland. The results were spectacular, having raised over $32K to benefit more than 50 students.

Courtesy of Wyndham Resorts, Simpleview and Maritz, 27 scholarships were awarded for individuals to attend WEC San Francisco. These recipients are from all over the world and include a gracious offering by Simpleview to bring the Acting Director of the Lviv Convention Bureau.

Finally, in celebrating MPI’s 50th Anniversary, the MPI Foundation continues to engage the business events industry to include both MPI and MPIF in planned giving. The Foundation’s intent is to ensure that many of the industry’s influencers and legacy recipients can continue to impact both MPI and MPIF in perpetuity.

For more information on the MPI Foundation, visit

Media Contact:

Drew Holmgreen, Chief Brand Officer //



Meeting Professionals International

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide. The organization provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. MPI has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including nearly 13,000 engaged members. It has It has nearly 70 chapters, clubs and members in more than 75 countries worldwide. "When we meet, we change the world."



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