Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Press Conference Recap: IMEX America 2023

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Press Conference Recap: IMEX America 2023

MPI leadership provides organizational business announcements, recaps IMEX America results, news on the upcoming European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) Luxembourg March 2024, details on World Education Congress (WEC) Louisville May 2024, organizational business and strategy announcements, findings from the latest Meetings Outlook industry report and information. 


  • Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO, MPI 

  • Susie Townsend, Chair-Elect of the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees and Chief Destination Experience Officer at Visit Indy 

  • Jessie States, Vice President of Education, MPI 

  • Drew Holmgreen, Chief Brand Officer, MPI 

IMEX America Recap  

For more than 20 years, the event industry has benefited from the strategic partnership forged between IMEX and MPI, the largest industry organizations worldwide. The focus of this partnership is to continue advancement of the global meeting industry through connections and professional development, making us all “smarter and stronger together.”  

Throughout the year, MPI and IMEX collaborate on various initiatives, including a key presence at IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America, and MPI’s signature events, the European Meetings and Event Conference (EMEC), which took place March 2023 in Brighton, UK (the headquarters home of IMEX), and the World Education Congress (WEC), this past June in the Mexican Caribbean. Additional engagements take place through content partnerships, like MPI’s quarterly Meetings Outlook research piece. 

MPI’s involvement at IMEX America is focused on two elements: professional development through full development of Smart Monday, powered by MPI, and a significant fundraising effort for the MPI Foundation. 

Smart Monday, powered by MPI, includes a full day of focused education and a midday keynote. MPI goes on to then provide daily keynotes on Tuesday and Wednesday, along with daily booth education.  

  • Education overview: Over the course of IMEX America, attendees participated in MPI education that ranged from morning keynotes to booth education to Smart Monday.   

  • Smart Monday: 1,200 total attendees across 30 sessions 

  • Booth Education: 18 sessions (over three days), 400 total attendees  

  • Daily Keynotes: 1,000 total attendees  

  • Monday: Tucker Bryant  

  • Tuesday: Nick Santonastasso 

  • Wednesday: Erin King  


IMEX America is also a critical annual fundraising week for the MPI Foundation. 

Four different events that represent from invitation-only to public campaigns are hosted and thankfully draw strong participation from the global IMEX attendees. 

  • Red, White and You wine auction: a VIP event hosted by MGM Resorts and Mandalay Bay 

  • Meet In Ireland Golf Day: annual event welcomed the MPI Foundation for a spectacular day on the course, hosted by Team Ireland. 

  • IMEX Silent Auction: Multi-day online silent auction featuring resorts, sports and music memorabilia, and travel packages to international destinations. 

  • RENDEZVOUS @ Drai’s: The hottest party on the Strip took place on October 18 sponsored by Caesars Entertainment and for the second year in a row SOLD OUT with a record number of 2,500 tickets sold and $320,000 raised. 


Cumulatively, the events raised over $410,000 to support ongoing MPI Foundation initiatives. 


MPI Business Update and Announcements 

Board Chair Elects  

Incoming 2024 Chair Elect Michelle Allgauer, Senior Vice President, Education and Engagement, at the Financial Services Institute, will be taking over on January 1 for current 2023 MPI International Board of Directors Chair Cleo Battle, President & CEO of Louisville Tourism. For the. MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees, Susie Townsend, Chief Destination Experience Officer at Visit Indy, was announced as the incoming 2024 Chair Elect, replacing Jen Beatty, current 2023 Chair and Director of Partnerships for the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. A complete list of current IBOD and GBOT members can be found here. The complete 2023 slate will be announced in November 2023.  

MPI Chief Financial Officer 

MPI announced the recent hiring of Tim Boobar as their new Chief Financial Officer. Tim comes to MPI having recently served as CFO for Marketplace Chaplains, a faith-based non-profit that operates a network of more than 2,000 individuals across North America. Prior to that post, he was CFO at The Expo Group and spent 13 years at Freeman. His experience in the event industry, coupled with his financial acumen, positions Tim perfectly to contribute to the growth and success of MPI. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Tim to the MPI family as our new Chief Financial Officer,” said Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of Meeting Professionals International. “His depth of experience has provided him with a strong understanding of the unique financial challenges and opportunities that meeting and event professionals face. We believe his insights and strategic financial leadership will be invaluable as we continue to serve our members and navigate the evolving landscape of our industry." 

In his new role as CFO, which starts October 30th, Tim will oversee all financial aspects of MPI, including budgeting, financial planning and ensuring the organization's fiscal health. He will play a critical role in developing and executing financial strategies that support MPI's mission to connect and educate meeting and event professionals worldwide. 

“I am excited to join MPI and contribute to an organization that plays such a vital role in our industry,” said Tim. “MPI has a rich history of supporting meeting professionals, and I am eager to work with the team, and their exceptional Board Members to ensure the organization's financial strength and stability as we move forward.” 

MPI Chapter Redesign 

Initiated in 2015, the organization recently launched a redesign of its chapter structure for its network of nearly 70 chapters and clubs around the world. The redesign was conducted with the sole intent of making the membership experience as strong as it can be.   

This redesign has included various steps including establishment of shared services and brand alignment and, this past July a significant simplification of governance and chapter and club formation requirements and performance measures. The next steps in this process, launching January 2024, are to align the chapter and MPI fiscal years, creating more organizational synergy and efficiencies, and to create a regional leadership structure. This new structure creates Regional Councils that offer Volunteer Chapter Leaders (VCL) increased support, direction and opportunities to collaborate and connect. It also provides a tighter connection between MPI and chapters and devoted senior-level strategic leadership. Additionally, while MPI is fortunate to have thousands of members who developed their leadership skills by joining the local chapter leadership, fewer opportunities exist after that period ends. These Regional Councils will provide VCLs a local connection to other chapters.  

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 meets its commitment to The Code.   

Meetings Outlook (Fall Edition)  

MPI’s quarterly, award-winning Meetings Outlook, sponsored by ALHI and in partnership with IMEX Group, continues to gauge meeting professional sentiment and insight to identify trends and projections of the industry’s future.   Some of the key findings from this report include:  

  • 70% expect favorable business conditions for next year—still very high, but down notably from last quarter (80%)  

  • In-person attendance expectations are tracking similarly to the above (from 80%+ to 70%, quarter over quarter)  

  • 61% say it's a seller's market  

  • 45% say they're back to pre-pandemic business levels—first time this has dropped (from 52% last quarter)  

  • 52% are finding it difficult to fill job vacancies—stable for past 3 quarters 


The complete fall 2023 Meetings Outlook report will be available in November. For more information, visit  


MPI Foundation Update  

By the Numbers  

Since April 2020, MPI Foundation has distributed more than $1.8 million in scholarships and grants, directly impacting 3,200 individuals and 63 chapters.  In the last 15 years, the distributions to members, chapters and industry groups equal over $6.3 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 and events.   

Social Impact  

Beyond the professional engagement for thousands of community members, the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees have supported eliminating human trafficking by providing training to global chapters. These training sessions have been partially subsidized by Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI). In addition, recently wildfires devasted the island of Maui and as a result have economically impacted all Hawaiian Islands. The MPI Foundation provided memberships to all 37 Hawaii-based members relieving them of any financial burden while the islands face recovery. 


While reflecting on the continued efforts of the MPI Foundation, 2024 brings a special milestone as the foundation celebrates 40 years. 

Several grassroots efforts as well as broader campaigns are in development to engage the global community to enhance donations supporting MPIF initiatives.  

For more information on the MPI Foundation, visit   


MPI Events Updates  

the EVENT (Canada) Acquisition 

In a groundbreaking move that signals a continued expansion of its global presence, MPI announced the acquisition of “the EVENT,” one of Canada's most prestigious event industry experiences. This exciting development further solidifies MPI's reputation as the leader within the meeting and event industry worldwide. 

“We are excited to bring ‘the EVENT’ into our MPI portfolio of global signature events,” commented Drew Holmgreen, Chief Brand Officer of MPI. “Paired with our Canadian Chapters and their exceptional leadership, who have driven this experience for a number of years, this acquisition is a testament to MPI’s commitment in creating a strong, global presence for face-to-face professional development.” 

With this strategic acquisition, MPI is poised to harness its Canadian community and industry insights and place emphasis on the innovative approaches, connections and creativity that the EVENT has proven since its inception. 

Working alongside Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal/Quebec chapters Volunteer Chapter Leaders and Ryan Young, Tim Whalen and Marie-France Watson, the original three co-founders of the EVENT, MPI currently plans to host the experience in the fall of 2024.   


European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC)   

The organization is thrilled to announce registration is now open for the 34th installment of its award-winning and globally recognized signature European event, EMEC, which takes place March 3-5, 2024, in Luxembourg. In 2023, EMEC took place in Brighton, UK, March 26-28, after a two-year in-person absence. 

EMEC, which 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, annually brings together more than 300 industry professionals in an event that focuses on three key experiential tenants--designed by Europeans for Europeans, serving as an idea incubator for the industry and providing a tight reflection upon its host destination, in this case Luxembourg. 

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 

  • 2023: Brighton, UK 


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


World Education Congress (WEC)  

This past June, MPI held its World Education Congress outside of Canada and the United States and at an all-inclusive resort for the first time ever. Hosted at the Barcelo Riviera Maya, WEC23 in the Mexican Caribbean brought together more than 1,400 in-person and nearly 200 attendees. The event included over 100 concurrent education sessions and dabbled in new experiential formats that took full advantage of the all-inclusive Mexican Caribbean environment. A full recap can be found here.  

Now, MPI turns its attention to Louisville, the host city of WEC May 20-22, 2024. With an anticipated 2,300 participants, WEC Louisville is offering each attendee the ability to “craft your experience” through a hands-on approach allowing them to create and customize their time at WEC. This year, WEC promises to be an event for the senses, designed to enlighten and delight, in a city that may be known for its bourbon and horses, yet offers one of the most exciting and hospitable scenes around. 

WEC Louisville will mark the 28th year of MPI’s signature North America event. An award-winning event that is coveted among prospective destinations, due to its ability to bring hundreds of planners (more than 600 most recently at WEC23 in the Mexican Caribbean) together to sample the opportunities each host offers. 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)  

  • 2023: Mexican Caribbean  


For more information on WEC Louisville, visit   

Future WEC locations include WEC St. Louis (2025) and WEC San Antonio (2026). An RFP will be issued in Q4 2023 for WEC 2027, 2028 and 2029.   


WEC Louisville Presidents Dinner 2024 Honoree 

Each year at WEC, MPI hosts its President’s Dinner, an evening devoted to honoring Volunteer Chapter Leaders, specifically each chapter president, and one individual, recognized with our Industry Leader Award. Recent recipients include Kitty Radcliffe (WEC23 in the Mexican Caribbean), Brian Stevens (WE San Francisco) and Terri Breining (WEC Vegas).  

MPI is thrilled to announce our 2024 Industry Leader Award recipient, Steve O’Malley, COO of Maritz. The award ceremony will take place at the MPI President's Dinner during WEC in Louisville on May 5, 2024. 

As the past chair of the MPI International Board of Directors for both 2019 and 2020, Steve O'Malley played an instrumental role in shaping the future of MPI and the industry at large. His visionary leadership and commitment have been invaluable in advancing the association's goals and standards. 

“Steve’s contributions to our industry have been nothing short of exceptional,” said Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of MPI. “Among the most personable, humble and approachable leaders I’ve known, his unwavering commitment have driven positive change and advancement in our association and the meeting and event field as a whole.” 

In addition to his MPI involvement, Steve has served as the president of the Site International Foundation and received the prestigious Richard Ross Past Presidents award from SITE Global in 2019, recognizing his outstanding service to the incentive travel industry. Just this week at IMEX America, Steve’s remarkable career was acknowledged when he was inducted into the Events Industry Council Hall of Leaders.  

“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award from MPI,” commented O’Malley. “The meeting and event industry is a vibrant community filled with talented professionals, and it has been a privilege to contribute to its growth and success. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues and peers throughout my career.” 



MPI has secured strategic partnership agreements with a variety of industry associations and media groups to increase marketing reach, Academy education and membership promotions. These organizations include the following. 

  • Destinations International 

  • IACC 

  • IAEE 


  • NCBMP 

  • SAACI 

  • SITE 

  • SportsETA 


MPI Academy Update 

The MPI Academy has several new initiatives to celebrate. 

  • AI for Events Certificate: MPI Academy has partnered with event technology platform Reposite to develop a certificate in artificial intelligence (AI) best practices and use for the meeting and event industry. This hands-on certificate program will debut in January and will equip meeting professionals with the knowledge and practical skills needed to harness AI’s potential for designing meaningful and immersive experiences. 

  • Encore AV Fundamentals Certificate: MPI Academy is partnering with Encore and the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education to offer Encore’s internal employee training programs to the MPI community so that meeting professionals can speak and understand the language of their AV technicians. On-demand courses will include the following. 

  • Audio Fundamentals 

  • Microphone Basics 

  • Lighting Fundamentals 

  • Projection Fundamentals 

  • Video Fundamentals 

  • Entertainment Rigging  

  • Power Distribution 

  • Event Welfare Champion: MPI plans to partner with The Neu Project and EventWell in 2024 to offer a certificate that helps meeting professionals become welfare champions, better equipped to identify and respond to signs of distress, provide appropriate support and make a positive impact on the overall attendee experience.​ 

  • Visit Detroit: MPI has partnered with Visit Detroit to create a toolkit includes career exploration guide, brochure, short sheet and presentation for use at local high schools to showcase careers in meetings.​ The partnership also includes education for high school students to learn more about the fundamental skills for meeting planning. 

Media Contact  

Cory Elford, Director of Marketing,  

Press Contact

Send all media related inquiries to:

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