MPI To Unveil Plan At PEC
With the meetings market and its leadership in flux, Meeting Professionals International will forge ahead with several new initiatives designed to document and raise the level of professionalism of its planner and supplier members, with an emphasis on transitioning their styles for thinking from tactical to strategic. Many of the initiatives will be unveiled at next month's Professional Education Conference in Kissimmee, Fla., the last large conference the association will hold with CEO Ed Griffin at its helm.
The PEC, which runs Feb. 2-4 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center, will feature several new and continuing initiatives, including debuting to the board of directors a new association strategic plan, the results of a survey documenting planner and supplier opinions on several industry issues and a leadership academy for senior planners, said George Aguel, chairman of the board of MPI and senior vice president of resort and park sales and services for Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts.
The conference program features a report from MPI's Corporate Circle of Excellence on communicating the value of corporate meetings to senior management. "That's part of an effort to help planner members think strategically and give them the tools to do so," Aguel said. "The leadership academy is part of that as well. We're bringing in strong, high-level speakers and joining with the Disney Institute to talk about the importance of leadership skills and training."
The open-ended survey touched on the future of numerous high-profile topics from meeting lead time to professionalism, and highlighted the differences in perceptions between planners and suppliers. "We did not restrict comments about any trends that impact the industry," Aguel said. "There's a likelihood with surveys that respondents define the future based on current experiences. That trend holds true this time, and there have been clear fundamental shifts in the industry between planners and suppliers."
MPI also will continue to broaden its multicultural initiative, Aguel said, refining a program currently tested in its Dallas Ft. Worth chapter to help chapters attract and retain members from all origins.
The initiatives come at a time when MPI is seeking a replacement for Griffin, who has announced his resignation effective April 30. Aguel said the search committee would not necessarily restrict its search to the meeting industry. "The underlying trait is leadership," he said. "They can find their way in any corridor."
Aguel has seen some rebound in the industry his association services, though the threat of military action in the Middle East clouds any potential recovery.
"Things are better in pockets," Aguel said. "Some more than others. It's unnerving that everything is so intensely short term, even pretty reasonably sized events. It makes forecasting brutal without the early signs we typically get, but the question that none of us can answer is that of Iraq. If 1991 is an example, there will be a trough and a heavy decline initially, but then there's a big spike when people realize things will be okay. There's a cloud hanging over the industry, and it won't let us get into a pace."