Meeting demand

A flatter world means more opportunities, says Bruce MacMillan, CA, President and CEO of Meeting Professionals International

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There is no doubt that the world is becoming flatter. Thomas Friedman’s book, The World Is Flat, gives many examples of how companies are working around and across borders to conduct business in this new landscape. We see it in the diversity of the workforce and in the variety of products offered today and you really notice it when you call a toll-free number and you realise you could be talking to an operator in any country in the world. Facing this new reality can be a daunting for any organisation in any industry. Alongside so many others, the meetings industry is tackling those same challenges and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is leading the charge by expanding its global vision and reach.

In March at the 2007 Professional Education Conference-Europe in Copenhagen, Denmark, MPI announced details of its newly approved global strategy a byproduct being the creation of a global meetings industry community to facilitate the success of its members.  Mark Andrew, MPI chair, made the announcement at the opening general session to an audience of more than 500, including Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

The key driver of the global strategy’s six essential components is to make meeting professionals more successful by connecting them directly to critical industry knowledge, profitable connections and a broader more dynamic marketplace. The six components include:

New professional education conferences (PEC)– MPI will redefine and customize the product to  easily expand to other parts of the world

More Regional Offices – Additional locations that will serve as central points of contact for members in a region or area

CultureActive© Tool – Showcase the online product as an invaluable  tool for helping members conducting business in a cross-cultural marketplace

Web Portals  – That centralize global community knowledge and business opportunities

Trade Missions  – That will build relationships with local officials and private sectors

Global Workshop Program – Create global workshops to help establish an MPI  presence or product in a targeted region or area.

The first step – Dubai
Step one in the global strategy is the product launch of PEC-Middle East in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in April 2008. This one-day professional education conference will precede the established Gulf Incentive, Business & Travel Management (GIBTM) show in Abu Dhabi. The MPI European office, now responsible for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), in partnership with Reed Travel Exhibitions and MCI Group Holdings, SA (MCI), will help support the new conference.

Dubai was chosen because of the billions of dollars it has invested in the meetings industry infrastructure. The region also is a hub for the European and Asian markets, as most cities are less than 7 hours by air.

Singapore to get an office and PEC
As part of the vision, MPI will also open an office in Singapore in the fall of 2007 and launch a PEC-Asia in the spring of 2008. The expansion of MPI’s annual educational program in both Dubai and Singapore is a deliberate response to support the outstanding meetings and tourism growth of those regions. It is important that MPI flows its expertise into parts of the world that are thriving in the meetings industry, and Dubai and Singapore are investing and developing their meetings infrastructure, and are already regional hubs with strong brands, making them natural choices for MPI.

What it means to the profession
The new strategy, created by MPI members for MPI members, will deliver added value to members and to the wider meetings industry by broadening the education, connections and marketplace base in these strongly emerging areas through partnerships with local planners and suppliers. By having a presence in the Middle East and Asia, meeting professionals will have access to a more diverse and globalized network of resources that will ultimately make them and their businesses more successful. As a meeting professional, you may not travel, but the wealth of information gained by MPI and members who do travel to these emerging areas will undoubtedly help you in your business.

Its new vision positions MPI as a truly global meetings industry community for members and becomes the key with which meeting professionals can unlock the door to globalization. It will help the industry take control and make the challenges of globalization a reality for professionals anywhere in the world.