by Sarah J.F. Braley | February 09, 2016
Meeting Professionals International's European Meetings and Events Conference, which wraps up today in Copenhagen, Denmark, incorporated a number of innovative meetings elements taken from the Danish concept called Meetovation. More than 400 people participated in the event, about 100 more than last year. 
"We are on a three-year attendee rise, jumping up from Istanbul [Turkey] to Kraków [Poland] last year, and a big jump up this year," said Paul Van Deventer, MPI president and CEO. (In addition, MPI's international board of directors met at this year's EMEC, the first time the board has been formally connected to the conference.)

General session seating and designs in the breakout rooms consisted of couches, padded benches, armchairs and other nontraditional conference seats, as well as traditional tables and chairs, to accommodate all the different adult learning styles, and the speakers focused on spreading their messages by telling their own stories. 

Many of the Meetovation elements used at the EMEC -- active involvement, responsible thinking, creative setup, local inspiration and return on investment -- will be implemented at MPI's main convention, the World Education Congress, to be held June 11-14 in Atlantic City.

"We've been testing some of these elements at the WEC, but we haven't been telling the story well enough about what we're trying to do," said Van Deventer. "With 140 tracks going on, it's harder to see where we're testing. We plan to tell the story better in Atlantic City. We're showing professionals how to do things differently and taking risks for them. We're going to break the mold so we can help our members and our community get better. "

One big change for MPI's events is who the speakers are and how they are prepped. "We're using one coach, so you're getting consistent basics in how people present for a consistent experience overall," said Van Deventer. "And we've hired expert content providers and we're teaching them how to speak, not using professional speakers." According to Van Deventer, these content providers will prepare by recording themselves and sharing it with other presenters, who will have a scorecard to rate the performance.  

The WEC will take place at Harrah's Atlantic City's new Waterfront Conference Center. Parent company Caesars Entertainment will offer free transportation from all area airports and train stations, and members from MPI chapters within a 300-mile radius that meet certain number quotas will be bused in on a luxury motorcoach. "This will create a community atmosphere from the beginning; the meeting starts on the bus," said Fiona Pelham, managing director of Sustainable Events Ltd and Positive Impact in Manchester, England, and current chair of the MPI board.

Harrah's conference center, which has two 50,000-square-foot pillarless ballrooms, won't be able to fit all of MPI's attendees in one room (about 3,000 people attended the WEC in San Francisco in August 2015), so the organization is coming up with new ways to broadcast the general session content around the facility. "Caesars is being very proactive and giving us different ways to deliver meals and do the general sessions," said Van Deventer, who added that the hosted-buyer program will evolve as well. "It's a great concept, but it's getting very stale," he noted. "So we're shaking that up. As opposed to being a very structured day of 30 appointments, it's going to be mixed with the general flow of people."