MPI Press Conference Recap: IMEX America 2022

MPI Press Conference Recap: IMEX America 2022

October 12, 2022, 11:15A PST

MPI leadership recaps IMEX America results, news on the upcoming European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) Brighton in March 2023, details on World Education Congress (WEC) Mexican Caribbean in June 2023, organizational business and strategy announcements, findings from the latest Meetings Outlook industry report and information about MPI’s 50th anniversary celebration.


Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO, MPI

Gary Schirmacher, Chair of the MPI Foundation Global Board of Directors and Sr. Consultant, Talent Acquisition, Maritz

Annette Gregg, Chief Revenue Officer

Drew Holmgreen, Chief Brand Officer

IMEX America Recap

The MPI and IMEX continued strategic partnership, which was formally extended through 2025, has existed for nearly 20 years. This partnership fuses the industry’s two biggest organizations into a one-of-a-kind, unrivaled resource, providing opportunities for meeting and event professionals to grow smarter and stronger together through year-round activations.

As a key component to the strategic partnership, MPI provided multiple activations onsite at IMEX America 2022 with an emphasis on education, specifically Smart Monday powered by MPI and daily keynotes, and Rendezvous, an evening celebration that took place on Wednesday, October 12, sponsored by Caesars Entertainment and benefiting the MPI Foundation. Below are the results associated with each of these activations:

Education overview: Over the course of IMEX America, more than 1,600 attendees participated in MPI education, from morning keynotes to booth education to Smart Monday. 

  • Smart Monday: 31 sessions, 815 total attendees
  • Booth Education: 13 sessions (over three days), 309 total attendees
  • Daily Keynotes: 798 total attendees
  • Monday Keynote: Kai Kight
  • Tuesday Keynote: Jen Coken
  • Wednesday Keynote: Shane Feldman
  • Thursday (un)Keynote: Nancy Snowden

MPI Foundation Activities: Over $400,000 total raised

  • Rendezvous, sponsored by Caesars Entertainment
  • Attendees: More than 2,700
  • Total amount raised: $315,000
  • Red, White and You
  • Total amount raised: $55,000
  • Silent Auction
  • Total amount raised: Over $33,000

MPI50 Day at IMEX America

MPI was founded in 1972, making this year the organization’s 50th anniversary. To commemorate, MPI kicked off a year-long celebration at IMEX America in 2021 and wrapped up its in-person anniversary engagements on Wednesday by establishing MPI50 Day at IMEX America.

IMEX America attendees were provided the opportunity to don their own MPI-branded gear, record “time capsule” MPI100 videos courtesy of a partnership with Gather Voices and come together for a reception at the MPI booth. Throughout the day, MPI50 videos were playing at the booth and featured content was run in multiple digital publications. More information about MPI50 can be found at

MPI Strategy Update

Strategic Planning Toward 2027

The MPI International Board of Directors, together with the MPI Executive Team, met in September in Tulum, Mexico (the site of WEC Mexican Caribbean) to review the association’s strategic plan and deep dive into various organization business strategies. The board confirmed MPI’s goals based around continued global growth, enhanced community value and long-term sustainability. Targeted for completion in 2027, the goals focus specifically on the following:

  • Active community: 250,000
  • Customers: 40,000
  • Revenue outside of North America: 20%
  • Alliance partners: 20+
  • Strong organizational financials:
  • $20MM revenue
  • $1.5MM+ EBITDA
  • $3.7M cash reserves
  • NPS (community/members/volunteers): 40/50/55
  • eNPS: 40

Global Membership Pricing Adjustment

To further provide global equality for event professionals and their ability to join the MPI community, global pricing was beta tested in 2021 and launched in the first quarter of 2022. This global pricing takes regional socio-economic data and currency exchange to identify and level membership fees. Four global tiers were created based on a primary rate.

Results have been positive with member count in non-primary rate markets increasing 25% and member revenue rising 17%. Much of the growth has been experienced in Latin America where membership has increased 43% year-over-year.

MPI Business Update

Commitment to Human Trafficking Awareness

MPI was recently recognized as the only U.S.-based member among the three Top Members in 2022 by The Code (short for The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism), a multi-stakeholder initiative supported by ECPAT. Top Members were selected based on their demonstration of implementation of The Code’s six criteria, which include a clause in contracts throughout the value chain that states a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children, training employees in children’s rights, how to report suspected cases and more. Over the past few years, MPI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, chapter leaders and MPI staff have played a role in ensuring MPI was meeting its commitment to The Code.

Board Chair Elects

Incoming 2023 Chair Elect Cleo Battle, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism will be taking over on January 1 for current 2022 MPI International Board of Directors Chair Bonnie Carlson, president & CEO of the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Jen Beatty, current 2023 MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees Chair Elect and Director of Business Development, International for Tourism Calgary, will take over for Gary Schirmacher, CMP, current GBOT Chair and Sr. Consultant, Talent Acquisition, Maritz. A complete list of current IBOD and GBOT members can be found here. The complete 2023 slate will be announced in November 2022.

Meetings Outlook (Fall Edition)

MPI’s quarterly, award-winning Meetings Outlook, sponsored by IMEX Group, continues to gauge meeting professional sentiment and insight to identify trends and projections of the industry’s future.

The latest edition of Meetings Outlook, summer 2022, found that business expectations remain strong with signs of growth at a sustainable pace rather than the jarring ups and downs that have been seen during the past 30 months. Some of the key findings from this report include:

  • 81% of respondents predict favorable business conditions for the year ahead. This is down from the recent all-time highs but remains incredibly positive/strong.
  • Costs are up. The majority of respondents say costs are increasing in excess of 6% for F&B, transportation, hotel accommodations, audiovisual and staffing. In fact, 41% of respondents expect F&B costs to increase more than 10% over the next year.
  • Hiring challenges are growing. 69% of respondents are experiencing difficulty filling job vacancies at their organizations—the greatest percentage since this data point was added to the survey more than a year ago.
  • Service levels are down. Closely related to the hiring challenges and “great resignation,” meeting and event professionals claim to be experiencing worse customer service than prior to the pandemic. Planners cite restaurants (73%) and hotels (72%) as two segments in which they’re experiencing the most significant decline in service quality. Thinking about events they’ve worked or attended this year, suppliers also identified restaurants (73%) as exhibiting the greatest service quality decline, followed closely by catered F&B (71%).

The next Meetings Outlook report will be available in November2022. For more information, visit

MPI Foundation Update

By the Numbers

Since April 2020, MPI Foundation has distributed more than $1.7 million in scholarships and grants, benefiting over 3,200 members and non-members; impacting approximately a quarter of MPI’s membership. The beneficiaries represented EVERY chapter in the MPI global community and were shared in the form of membership renewal grants and new member grants to support individuals in financial distress.

In the last 15 years, the distributions to members, chapters, and industry groups equals over $6.2 million. The funding for these ongoing initiatives has been sourced through MPI Foundation reserves, dozens of corporate, destination, and philanthropic partners, as well as countless fundraising events and silent auctions hosted during international conferences and regional meetings & events.

Ukraine, Poland, and Hospitality’s future

The MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees utilized Global Meetings Industry Day 2022 as a platform to support Ukrainian hospitality students complete their senior year at Vistula University. Over $30,000 was raised via individual and matching donations offering these students relief while facing personal and economic strife due to the unwarranted Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over 30 students benefited from the scholarships and were distributed by MPI Poland.

Forever Fund

Launched in Q2 2021, the MPI Foundation created a planned giving initiative to support MPI members in perpetuity. The Forever Fund is the first in a line of new long-term legacy contribution platforms that are in development for the Foundation.

Launched as part of MPI’s 50th anniversary, the 1972 Society is a specific example of industry leaders choosing to make a $5,000 donation all at once or over five years. The funds go directly to the endowment which is engaged in a multi-year plan to achieve $5 million.

For more information on the MPI Foundation, visit

MPI Events Updates

European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC)

MPI announced that registration is officially live for its signature European event, EMEC, which is now in its 33rd year and resuming after a two-year in-person absence. The experience brings upwards of 500 event professionals from across Europe and will be held in-person, March 26-28, 2023 in Brighton, United Kingdom, the corporate home of IMEX Group.

EMEC has long been founded on the principles of serving as an idea incubator for the worldwide events community, offering distinctive flavoring by its local destination and planned and designed by the European community for the European community. The experience was recognized in 2019 by Best Event Awards (BEA) as the Best Conference and in 2021 received a Gouden Giraffe Award for Best Congress and Education Event.

Past destinations include:

  • 2016: Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2017: Granada, Spain
  • 2018: Rome, Italy (Global Forum conducted cooperatively with SITE)
  • 2019: The Hague, The Netherlands
  • 2020: Sevilla, Spain

Future locations beyond EMEC Brighton are currently in RFP. To learn more about EMEC Brighton visit

World Education Congress (WEC)

MPI has now successfully hosted WEC, their signature annual North America Event, three times since the pandemic was declared in March 2020 – Grapevine (November 2020), Las Vegas (June 2021) and San Francisco (June 2022). In 2023, WEC will set two entirely new precedents – being held for the first time south of the border in Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico and at an all-inclusive property, the Barcelo Hotel Group.

WEC Mexican Caribbean will mark the 27th year of WEC, which typically attracts upwards of 2,500 event industry professionals. The event is consistently sought out by destinations, as it allows each to showcase their venues and ability to deliver top-flight events. Its last pre-pandemic location, Toronto in 2019, has attributed more than $11.2 million in economic impact for the destination post WEC, as per Destination Toronto. Below are the most recent locations:

  • 2018: Indianapolis, IN
  • 2019: Toronto, ON (Canada)
  • 2020: Grapevine, TX (feature length documentary available here)
  • 2021: Las Vegas, NV (full event recap available here)
  • 2022: San Francisco, CA (full event recap available here)

The 2023 setting offers a unique opportunity for MPI to take calculated risks once again in producing a refreshing experience unlike any other. Strategically working to create a truly blended business and leisure – “bleisure” – experience for all attendees, where the benefits offered by the destination pair equally with the top tier education and networking that attendees expect to receive at WEC.

The event further seeks to take advantage of MPI’s global footprint as the industry’s largest worldwide industry association. Specific to Latin America, where membership has nearly doubled in the past year alone. For more information on WEC Mexican Caribbean, visit

MPI also announced its WEC 2023 President’s Dinner honoree: Kitty Ratcliffe, President of Explore St. Louis. Kitty will be honored alongside each of the organization’s 67 outgoing Chapter Presidents.

Future WEC locations include WEC Louisville (2024), WEC St. Louis (2025) and WEC San Antonio (2026). An RFP will be issued in fall 2022 for WEC 2027 and 2028.


MPI is in the process of securing strategic partnership agreements with a variety of industry associations and media groups to increase marketing reach, Academy product distribution and membership promotions. These organizations include:

  • International Association of Conference Centers (IACC)
  • National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP)
  • Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
  • International Association of Exhibition & Events (IAEE)
  • Sports Events and Tourism Association (Sports ETA)
  • Destinations International (DI)
  • Questex
  • Connect

MPI Academy Update

MPI Academy is pleased to share two new initiatives in addition to ones announced at the WEC San Francisco event.

User-Generated Content

MPI Academy is thrilled to announce the industry’s only user-generated content library. Known as Community Content, now ANY member of the MPI community can submit short (up to five-minute) videos on any topic, and we’ll host them for everyone to view. It is the “Great Democratization” of content and no other industry association provides this opportunity. For more information, or to submit a video, visit

African Education Launch

MPI Academy has partnered with the Southern African Association for The Conference Industry (SAACI) to deliver educational content. The partnership debuted this month (October) with the first-ever delivery of the well-respected Basics Boot Camp: Meeting and Event Fundamentals certificate program with more than 50 students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Earlier this year, MPI Academy launched the following programs.

Digital Credentialing: Using Badgr, MPI Academy course attendees can now add badges to their online portfolios or resumes, display them on LinkedIn and share them on social media to convey their skills and certifications.

Emerging Meeting Professional (EMP) Designation: MPI believes that emerging professionals are one of the most crucial assets to the future of our industry, and now offers a designation that differentiates and elevates emerging professionals who want to set themselves apart when seeking employment.

CMP Academy Study Skills Program: Unlike many study programs for comprehensive exams, MPI’s CMP Academy does not aim to create a one-size-fits-all learner experience. Instead, with the guidance of an expert educator, the CMP Academy strives to create an environment where learners can identify their skill and knowledge gaps and apply proven learning methods and tactics to prepare for the exam.

HMCC Verified Venues: MPI launched the HMCC Verified Venues (HMCC-VV) designation initiative to provide hotel and venue partners with a credential that will allow them to not only remain competitive in a rapidly expanding marketplace but also obtain a succinct and efficient way of representing how they can meet the detailed needs of their prospective clients. Beta-tested with long-time partner Marina Bay Sands, the first HMCC Verified Venue, the designation program is comprised of eleven individual standards that venues are evaluated on to determine their alignment with the best practice standards of healthcare meetings.

Media Contact

Drew Holmgreen, Chief Brand Officer //



Drew Holmgreen
Vice President of Brand Engagement

Drew is the Vice President of Brand Engagement at Meeting Professionals International. Outside of positioning the MPI global brand for success and growth, he enjoys spending time with his wife and little boy, and sampling craft beers.


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