10 Key Takeaways from MPI’s 2017 World Education Congress

Taya Paige

People on stage at MPI 2017 World Education Congress

The recent Meeting Professionals International’s 2017 World Education Congress (MPI-WEC) really drove home the importance of events—in an unforgettable way.

The theme of the conference—“Stop planning meetings. Start designing experiences.”—really resonated with the whole crowd, and the conference was packed with excellent speakers, entertainment and networking that took the conference to a different level.

The WEC is where vendors, customers and competitors come together to share ideas, best practices and collaborate for the betterment of the meetings industry, global exchange, diversity and several philanthropies.

What aspects stood out as most important? Check out these 10 major takeaways.

1. Technology, Technology, Technology

Let’s face it: we are all in the technology business. Get savvy with digital technology, registration options, apps, etc. Rely on your IT team to help decipher the best fit for your particular situation. Don’t try to be the expert on it all alone, however, do continue to educate yourself, innovate and bring ideas to the table.

2. Data and Analytics Are a Must

Data and analytics are more important than ever, and collaboration to identify trends in industries such as healthcare is needed. Work within your local chapter or specialty groups such as MPI-MD to share case studies, research and results.

3. Livestreaming the Future

Livestreaming events is becoming more mainstream for everything—from broadcasting conference sessions to announcing new products, town hall meetings and speaker interviews. Expect glitches and have a plan for editing, archiving and leveraging (or boosting) the content. Consider solutions such as Facebook live as an inexpensive option, however, consider privacy and legal issues prior to implementing.

That said, don’t replace your event outright in favor of livestreaming—there’s a real business case for face-to-face events.

4. Innovation Is the New Normal

Innovation isn’t just a buzzword. It’s critical to keeping attendance up, making an experience memorable and to a creating a successful meeting. A few ways to innovate:

  • Consider Virtual Reality (VR). Speakers can be the biggest cost of an event, so have you considered a hologram? VR is an excellent way to engage physicians and all types of participants at a tradeshow booth.
  • Analytics are key, so capture all you need with interactive technology that will save time, Wi-Fi fees and allow you to start seeing trends as you incorporate it into all sessions.
  • Provide 1:1 meeting space, big open networking spaces and flexible eating areas to allow for transitions vs. thrusting everyone into a ballroom for a welcome reception.
  • Conferences such as MPI-WEC offer excellent resources. You can’t be innovative sitting at your desk. Schedule time to get out to network, experience and learn. Save the date for WEC 2018, June 2 – 5 at the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

5. Stay in the Know With New Guidelines

New MedTech guidelines are set to create some changes in the industry. I encourage conference planners to collaborate on a strategy to keep attendance at MedTech conferences up. This new regulation will greatly effect sponsorship opportunities at MedTech conferences in Europe. It also will effect conferences in other countries, including the U.S., who have participants from Europe.

6. Data Privacy Matters

Now’s the time to become familiar with the Global Data Protection Requirement (GDPR). Governance of this will be pushed up to CEOs.

There’s no argument—this is the most important change in data privacy regulation in over 20 years.

The GDPR will go into effect in May of 2018. This new regulation will impact most multinational companies around the world, not just those based in the EU. The fines for non-compliance are hefty—up to 4% of annual revenue. Ask questions and escalate up the food chain to be sure your vendors are compliant as well.

7. It’s Your Duty to Care for Your People

Security for your events is not an optional thing. It’s our duty to have contingency processes in place for meeting participants. Don’t rely on the venue to provide security. Address the security plan with your client and vendor to be sure all bases are covered and thoroughly communicated.

Related: For more on providing safe and secure experiences, read our powerful new travel and event risk management ebook full of actionable tips.

8. The Sharing Economy Isn’t Slowing Down

Uber and Airbnb are just the start. More and more corporations are sanctioning these options, especially in the tech industry and companies who employ more millennials.

9. Our Political Landscape Impacts Meetings, Too

Politics has trickled into seemingly every aspect of our lives and business, and meeting planning is no different. Accordingly, smart meeting planners must stay on top of:

  • Anti-discrimination efforts. It’s time to be proactive about being welcoming and inclusive of all.
  • Visas. Stay educated on how to handle changing requirements.
  • Livestreaming. Face-to-face meetings are more important than ever, but be prepared to live-stream or teleconference with attendees who may not be able to travel due to bans or visa issues.

10. Plan B is Part of Plan A’s Strategy

Your Plan B shouldn’t be an afterthought. Security, politics and technology issues are all an unfortunate reality. Proactive plans for each scenario is necessary.

Face-to-face meetings drive innovation and economic growth. There is still a great need and demand for meetings. However, as an industry, it’s critical that we become well-versed in the story of meetings. Articulate the strategic value and ROI of meetings with our clients, communities, politicians, young professionals—anyone we can.

Redesign the experience and expand the audience, capture market share and attract new demographics. As Paul Van Deventer, CEO of MPI said, “Make mistakes that make the world more interesting.”

And, as keynote speaker Deepak Chopra said, “If you change experiences, you change your mind,” and “everywhere we go, we bring our spirit and peace.”

We have the opportunity in the Meeting Professionals industry to create experiences that inspire, ignite, change minds and spread peace!

Stop planning meetings. Start designing experiences. It’s good for business and good for your participant’s mental and physical health!

Taya Paige

Taya Paige

Taya Paige brings over 25 years of hospitality industry experience to ITA Group, including leadership positions in sales, marketing and operations in destination management, meetings and incentives and as an entrepreneur. She is known for her impact and roots within the pharmaceutical/healthcare meetings industry, and is a contributing author of the CMP-HC certification, which represents current and best practices in the industry. She has also been appointed to MPI’s new Medical Meeting Professionals Advisory Council. Her vision of success fuses with ITA Group’s vast experience in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, and offers incredible new insights from decades in the field.