MPI at World Education Congress 2023 in the Mexican Caribbean ​

MPI at World Education Congress 2023 in the Mexican Caribbean ​

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
  • Rachel Benedick, Chief Revenue Officer, MPI
  • Cleo Battle, MPI International Board of Directors Chair and President, Louisville Tourism
  • Jennifer Beatty, MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees Chair and Director of Partnerships, TIAC


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 27th year, WEC, which has three times been awarded a top global event by Eventex, typically attracts upwards of 2,500 event industry professionals and has most recently been held in the following locations:

  • 2018: Indianapolis, IN
  • 2019: Toronto, ON (Canada)
  • 2020: Grapevine, TX
  • 2021: Las Vegas, NV
  • 2022: San Francisco, CA

WEC continues to be sought out by destinations, as it allows each to showcase their venues and ability to deliver top-flight events. The event continues to take transparent, calculated risks to help showcase how event professionals can deliver top-shelf experiences for their participants and businesses, while providing the best possible education and networking opportunities.

In a time of industry resurgence, MPI chose a destination that has shown exciting signs of growth. The MPI community in Mexico has grown 60% since 2019, also welcoming two new chapters (Caribe Mexicano and Colombia) as well as two new clubs (Argentina and Ecuador).  

This year’s WEC23, held at the all-inclusive Barcelo resorts in the Mexican Caribbean, showcased how business learnings and connections can successfully take place in non-traditional settings, creating an event of many “firsts.” WEC23 was the first WEC held in Mexico, the first large-scale industry event held at an all-inclusive Mexican resort and first WEC to feature enhanced programming, boasting five general sessions and four keynotes.

WEC23 had nearly 1,500 total participants with the large majority – close to 1,400 – attending live, in-person along with almost 150 virtually. Of the in-person attendees, more than 600 were event planners and the Latin American community represented over 100 in total. More than 120 planners participated in the hosted buyer program, totaling 2,300 appointments spread across 140 suppliers.

Carrying forward MPI’s WEC promise to “refresh” and “embrace change in an ever-changing industry,” participants accessed general sessions and concurrent education across the three-day event. General sessions specifically focused on topics that would connect peers to knowledge and inspiration to help them stay ahead of the curve and continue to grow personally and professionally.

Gaby Natale is a global media entrepreneur with a unique story. Owner of the Global Agency, she is the first Hispanic woman to win three consecutive daytime EMMYs and has created TV shows and documentaries that celebrate female empowerment. She inspired the WEC23 audience with her powerful talk: “Utterly Unique You: Breaking Barriers and Redefining Possibility.”

Elatia Abate is an entrepreneur, futurist and educator who has held esteemed positions such as global director of talent acquisition for Anheuser-Busch InBev and vice president of human resources for Dow Jones & Company Inc. At WEC23, she discussed strategies to prepare for the rapid transformation ahead in her talk, “The Future of Now: Three Strategies to Prepare in a Period of Accelerated Change.”

Hamza Khan is a multi-award-winning marketer, bestselling author and global keynote speaker whose TEDx Talk, “Stop Managing, Start Leading” has been viewed more than two million times. He shared his insights on traversing the road ahead at WEC23 in his keynote, “Human 9000: Navigating the Future of Work with Attunement, Resilience and Creativity.”

Pauline Nguyen is an inspiring speaker who escaped war-torn Vietnam as a child before building a successful career in Australia. She is the co-founder of the world’s most-awarded Vietnamese restaurant and author of “The Way of the Spiritual Entrepreneur.” At WEC23, Nguyen shared her experience and insights in “The Four Essential Ingredients for Evolving Leadership.”

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 13, Opening Celebration: Xcaret Mexico Espectacular Show
  • June 14, President’s Dinner: President’s Dinner at Hilton Tulum honoring Kitty Ratcliffe and MPI Chapter Presidents  
  • June 15, Closing Celebration: Rendezvous at the Barcelo Maya Riviera beach

Future WEC locations were recently announced, including:

  • 2024: WEC Louisville, May 21-23
  • 2025: WEC St. Louis, June 17-19
  • 2026: WEC San Antonio, June 2-4
Full details on WEC23 Mexico Caribbean can also be found by visiting


Meetings Outlook Spring 2023 Edition

Published in May, the Spring 2023 Edition of MPI’s signature quarterly industry research index focused on “Cost Increases Continue to Outpace Budgets and Present Challenges,” with highlights as follows:

  • 81% predict favorable business conditions for the next 12 months—down slightly from the highest seen, but still incredibly positive
  • 83% of respondents expecting positive live attendance growth over the next year (41% expect an increase of >10%)
  • 52% say they’re experiencing difficulty filling job vacancies—a 17% drop since summer 2022
  • 65% are already back to pre-pandemic business levels or expect to hit that mark this year
  • A majority (55%) say F&B costs are up more than 10%; 50% say the same about hotel accommodations
  • Most respondents expect these extreme cost increases to slow over the next year
  • Summer 2023 edition will be published on in August
To view the complete report, please click here.


MPI Strategy and Business Update

The MPI team shared that the organization continues to remain focused on its vision, to lead and empower an inclusive meeting and event community to change the world while maintaining a tight focus around the association’s key strategic pillars:

  • Brand Awareness and Industry Advocacy
  • Industry Innovation, Education and Delivery
  • Dynamic Business Exchanges
  • Expanding and Engaging Our Diverse Community
  • Operational Excellence
It was noted that financially, MPI has continued to operate with a stable financial balance sheet, which ensures the long-term sustainability of the association for generations to come.


Global Membership Update

The association’s membership is continuing to see significant growth since 2022, now nearing 12,000 members. Supplier membership fell off heavily between 2020 and 2021 but has been surging in the past 18 months. There are nearly 6,000 planner members, composed of corporate, ISBO (independent and small business owners) and associations.

Board Chair Elects

Incoming 2023 MPI International Board of Directors (IBOD) Chair will be Michelle Allgauer, Senior Vice President, Education & Engagement at Financial Services Institute (FSI). Susie Townsend, Chief Destination Experience Officer for Visit Indy 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.

Social Responsibility

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A long-term and foundational pillar of the association, MPI continues to lean into its EDI Committee to lead initiatives addressing equality at the foundation of MPI with chapter-oriented training and education, along with mentorship.

Human Trafficking Awareness

In 2022, MPI was recognized as a top member of ECPAT USA (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), one of the three global organizations receiving that status. 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.

Chapter Investment

There were two primary goals identified in 2014 and 2015 for chapters: create a consistent brand experience, regardless of locale and to localize content, strategy and networking in chapters.

Since 2015 standards have been created, platforms and shared services have been developed and training and leadership programs have started to create this shift. In 2023, there will be a change to governance and chapter requirements, launching in July 2023. And further changes, namely structural adjustments, are expected in early 2024.

MPI Events Updates

IMEX Frankfurt (May 2023)

IMEX Frankfurt recently took place in May 2023 and MPI was onsite boasting 20 education sessions in “The Valley Room,” a themed area created in partnership with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) to host education. Other highlights include:

  • MPI collaborated again with IMEX on She Means Business programming.
  • The Future Leaders Forum program with MCI and IMEX took place, and a scholarship was provided to the winner of our University Challenge, Kewalin Suraphanpirosh from Tharmmasat University in Bangkok.
  • Also occurring the Monday before IMEX Frankfurt officially kicked off, MPI once again held the European Chapter Leaders Forum (ECLF), with 30 volunteer chapter leaders from across Europe gathering for a half day of training and connections.

European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC)

MPI was excited to finally host EMEC Brighton, March 26-28, 2023. There were 315 attendees (59% planner). Attendees reported 86% event satisfaction, 100% hosted buyer satisfaction, 91% networking satisfaction and 78% education satisfaction. There were three experiential learning journeys, four general sessions, 20 concurrent sessions and attendees could get 10 CE hours.

Now entering its 34th year, and serving as the signature European event for MPI, EMEC brings event professionals from across Europe each year with destinations that have recently included:

  • 2017: Krakow, Poland
  • 2018: Rome, Italy (Global Forum conducted cooperatively with SITE)
  • 2019: The Hague, The Netherlands
  • 2020: Sevilla, Spain
  • 2023: Brighton, UK
EMEC continues to serve 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 Golden 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 Luxembourg can be found here. Future locations are currently in RFP.

IMEX America Smart Monday

In October 2023, MPI will bring a 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 third year in a row at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

MPI Academy Updates

The MPI Academy soft launched a new brand during MPI’s Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) broadcast with the core message of “Rise to your next.” Meeting and event professionals can find the tools, knowledge, connections and skills through MPI Academy offerings that will enable them to grow personally and professionally in whatever industry endeavor is next in their life.

In 2023 so far, there have been 2,750 unique user logins on the LMS and 800 new users.

This past March, MPI hosted a worldwide Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) broadcast. This year saw 4,118 registrants. 132 individuals became members through the event, with 270 member renewals.

The MPI Academy provided additional insight into new programs and initiatives.

Marriott Sustainability Partnership

MPI and Marriott recently launched a strategic partnership focused on educating and creating awareness around sustainability throughout the events industry. This collaboration has a key focus on the creation of custom MPI Academy education and content. Kicked off at WEC23 through developing and providing an Actionable Sustainability for Today’s Event Strategist Certificate, the next significant experience will take place at Marriott headquarters, July 12. The event will target 35 planners to attend, again showcasing cutting-edge sustainability content. Additional content includes collaborative editorial with The Meeting Professional, videos, website presence and more.


MPI Certified

Four schools have been accepted or are in the process of being certified, including locally at Anahuac University in Cancun.

Detroit Workforce Development

In collaboration with Visit Detroit, the MPI Academy has developed and launched an Emerging Meeting Professional Sponsorship for high school students. The effort also includes a workforce recruitment toolkit for the student base.

MPI Meeting Essentials

Joining existing partnerships in Mexico, South Africa and Korea, the MPI Academy is launching its Meeting Essentials certificate delivery program in Colombia in Q3 2023. This critical initiative helps to spread the ability for industry professionals to gain insights into the best possible experiences, while further legitimizing and providing professionalism locally.

Alliances Update

As MPI continues to grow its presence globally, it seeks to further align itself with industry peer associations through formal alliances. This includes formal partnerships with DI, IACC, IAEE, ICHRIE, HSMAI, NCBMP, SITE, SportsETA and of course its strategic partnership with IMEX. Here at WEC23, a number of those partners participated in the experience, including SITE, IAEE, LGBTMPA, NCBMP and ICHRIE.

For more information on the MPI Academy, visit

MPI Foundation (MPIF) Update

WEC is a KEY fundraiser for the MPI Foundation. Through the below activations, the Foundation was able to raise more than $100,000.

  • G3 – fan-friendly golf tournament at Hard Rock Golf Club
  • President’s Dinner
  • LIVE auction and raffle
  • WEC Silent Auction
  • Live auction and raffle with over 75 items.
  • Closing Night/RNDZ Celebration


The MPI Foundation has made a huge impact on the community. In 2022, over $110,000 was distributed. In 2023, the MPI Foundation is projected to distribute 55% more funds to the global community.

Over 50 scholarships were created to assist MPI members to attend WEC23 through the following donors: Wyndham Resorts, Simpleview, Visit Dallas and Encore.

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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