Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MPI’s WEC — The Opening Act

There has been a lot of buzz and excitement in Salt Lake City this week! Meeting Professionals International (MPI) kicked off it’s annual World Education Congress Sunday (July 12) with a terrific Opening General Session.

I am not participating in the conference Face2Face, or virtually, as my budget did not allow it. However, I have been monitoring the twitter feed for the conference as identified by hashtag “#wec09.”  There were approximately 75 people posting tweets during the 90 minute session. (myself included) From the information and insight shared during that twitter exchange, spawns this article.  To get us started watch this impressive video which kicked off the event:

Following some insightful opening remarks by Ms. Ann Godi, (Chairwoman, MPI)  the presentations began.  The featured speakers (in order of appearance) were:

Rather than regurgitate the comments provided by these excellent presenters I synthesized their individual thoughts into three collective Lessons:

Lesson #1 — Meetings Do Indeed Mean “Business”

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Ann Godi offered the following opening insights:

“As an industry we can’t afford to be a best kept secret…… Nothing compares to the energy of many”

Ben Stein affirmed business meetings are not the problem (with the economy) but bring about solutions.

“Effective meetings deliver organizational success…Meetings breathe oxygen into the organs of the economy!” Ben added (and perhaps sadly) at another point, “Business meetings did not cause this recession, unless they’re the meetings of the federal reserve. why is the government attacking them?”

A humorous quip offered by Ben, “if business meetings are a bad idea let’s ban congress and turn the capitol into condos.”

Gary Loveman felt Event Professionals need to justify meetings as more than a discretionary expense.

“Meeting for success is still the right medicine…. Even in times when companies scale back they need to remember high performers still need to be enticed and supported to remain strong.”

Betsy Myers offered perhaps the best of example of the effectiveness of meetings, pointing out Meetings and Events Elected President Obama….

“I need to whisper in the President’s ear because meetings and events elected him.” Betsy added “meetings tap into the fundamental human need for connection.”

Lesson #2 — There is a New Normal!

Ann Godi says the World has changed… Shift Happens…

Gary Loveman

Gary Loveman

“The only reason to hold a meeting is to change the world…don’t stop believing. When we meet we change the world.”

Ben Stein believes government does not understand what occurs at business meetings.

“I see America falling apart in so many ways…but fixing it is our work….Business meetings are about making things happen.”

Gary Loveman thinks innovation is the key to success in the “new economy.” Harrah’s built a Paula Deen Buffet cheaper than a traditional Vegas counterpart.

“We need to stop apologizing for having meetings and get to the right answer, not the wrong answer with the right intentions”

Betsy Myers cited “learning.” as one of the (7) seven principles for success.

“Always seek out people who know more than you. Be willing to give up a little control. Open your mind.” She adds “We come to meetings to learn. Sometimes people who know more than you are 23 years old. Welcome to the new world.”

Lesson #3 — Its About Customer Service

Betsy Myers

Betsy Myers

Ann Godi feels what we do as Event Professionals matters and we need to “own it.”

“Know your own business.. Learn what is important in every aspect of your niche”

Ben Stein offered an analogy with a Patriotic twist, comparing the US Military with Movie celebrities.

“Movie stars are not the real stars, our real stars have on uniforms and are fighting and battling with IED’s and more”

How true is that? Ben Stein you are a real American.

Gary Loveman asserts we need to understand what our clients need and develop new ways of delivering more value to them. Harrah’s will be offering a customized gaming experience.

“Find a way to do something that resonates with people … The edge is all in having the best customer service…regardless of the business you’re in”

Betsy Myers believes relationship building is key, and listening to your customers opinions.

“When people feel understood and listened to they become passionately engaged.”

Whatever side of the Events business we are on we must all become evangelists of our industry. Whats your perspective on the “New Normal?” I look forward to your feedback!

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Swanwick July 14, 2009 at 8:16 am

What a great service! They should have you on the One+ payroll. :)

The new normal: what an excellent question…. Large meetings for so long have followed the same general formula. Sit in learning sessions with ppt and then collaborate in the hallways, meals, and cocktail parties. That has got to change.

The online environment is not only a great place to consume lectures without burning travel dollars, it is also becoming a great place to collaborate. Meetings need to capitalize on their differentatior, namely face2face interaction. They should use the online environment to supplement activities that are far superior in person.

For example: roundtable discussions, whiteboard workout sessions, small breakout sessions to dive deep on micro-topics.

If everyone is already armed with knowledge they obtained from an online environment and they have some idea of who they want to connect with from that online environment, they will gain significantly more from their face2face time.



Michael M McCurry CMP July 14, 2009 at 10:54 am

@Robert Swanwick

Robert, thanks much for your compliment…. glad you found this article useful!

You raised a good point, about online content comingling with face2face meetings…. that is a valuable synergy… what I find interesting is your suggestion to utilize online content as a tool to prepare folks for their face2face experience.

Great thought, and I appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts and perspectives.



James Parker July 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm

That was very well done. Maybe we can combine our efforts and I will create a Virtual Environment for people to congregate online during the event and you can provide insightful recaps of what has been said. Therefore, we feel like we are there, we network like we are there, and yet we are participating in one tenth the time.
I like it!


Michael M McCurry CMP July 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm

@James Parker

Hi James, that is a really interesting idea.. would love to chat with you about doing something like that in the future! Thanks for contributing to this article.

Why don’t you email me your contact information and we can take the conversation offline.

email: mike.mccurry@experient-inc.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/michaelmccurry


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