by Sarah J.F. Braley | August 03, 2015

At Meeting Professionals International's World Education Congress, being held Aug. 1-4 in San Francisco, a number of new initiatives have been unveiled, aimed at furthering the careers of the organization's 16,000 members.

The MPI Academy is an umbrella organization that will hold all of the professional educational opportunities on offer for the community. The content aligns with the Meeting and Business Event Competency Standards and is for meeting professionals of all levels, with a portfolio of training courses, certificate programs, sessions from previous live events and more. Members will be able to access the new MPI Professional Development Roadmap, which will help them steer their careers.

The organization's new Experiential Series is for experienced planners who want to dive into different areas of the process. The program focuses on behind-the-scenes opportunities in categories like food and wine, sports, entertainment, and large events. The three-day experience will feature a behind the scenes tour, interaction with the people putting on the event, the opportunity to volunteer at the event and a third day in the classroom. The first two events that will host participants are the Miss America Pageant in September and the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in November.

For high-level planners who work on large or experiential events, MPI is launching the Corporate Summit, to share practices on issues they need to be looking at, such as shared-economy businesses and technology. Through this, MPI is trying to reach a new type of member. "These are not planners, these are marketers," said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of the Dallas-based organization.

Among other new educational initiatives:

  • Meeting Essentials, a program for new and midlevel members, covers fundamental elements for creating high-quality events.
  • Sustainable Meeting Professional Certificate, providing education and tools allowing participants to begin practicing sustainable meeting planning; the first course was held Saturday as part of the WEC. The program is built around the Sustainable Meeting Planning Program, a sustainable meeting planning tool certified by iCompli Sustainability, a division of BPA Worldwide.
  • Meetings and Events at Sea Certificate, created in partnership with the Cruise Line International Association, is a certificate course teaching the advantages of hosting events on cruise ships.

"The excitement in our community is there," said Van Deventer. "The WEC registration is way ahead of our expectations; we are expecting 2,500 people, which is 25 percent above last year." He added that the WEC's numbers are almost exactly 50-50 between suppliers and planners, "which allows for that effective networking and business to go on."