MPI’s WEC24 Hit a High Note for Planners

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Louisville, the host city of MPI’s WEC24.

With the May 22 close of MPI’s World Education Congress 2024 (WEC24) in Louisville, all eyes turned toward 2025 and the Gateway City of St. Louis—where the America’s Center Convention Complex is undergoing a $256M expansion and redesign in time for WEC25, June 17-19.

But before WEC24 gets smaller in the rearview, take a look at some highlights of a show that encouraged planners to “Craft Your Experience.”

A Keynote That Hit the Right Notes

Held in partnership with Broadway Plus and sponsored by Hilton, Broadway to Boardroom: Business Best Practices from Backstage featured a panel of theater heavyweights—including Jessica Lee Goldyn (A Chorus Line, Moulin Rouge!), Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory), and Fergie Philippe (Hamilton, Camelot)—who shared their experiences handling the pressures of Broadway and how they related to the working world. Strategies for managing high-stress roles and achieving career longevity were the universal themes uniting art and business.

In a statement to the media Jessie States, VP of the MPI Academy, said, “Incorporating the voices of Broadway into this year’s WEC Louisville not only enriches our program but provides our members with unparalleled insights into performance under pressure. These artists excel in a high-stakes environment much like our own, making their experiences directly relevant and immensely valuable to our community.”

Talking Wellbeing

In her May 22 WEC session, Naomi Tucker, Founder of Planners on Purpose, presented Event Industry Burnout—We’re Putting it ALL on the Table, addressing the anxiety and workload experienced by those in an industry consistently ranked among the most stressful jobs.

“With the pandemic, there was the Great Resignation, where people massively resigned from their jobs, and then The Great Regret, where many of them thought twice about those decisions, and now many industries are experiencing what is now being termed The Great Burnout, and believe burnout is the epidemic that many are experiencing now in our industry” Tucker noted to MPI before the show.

Tucker urges common-sense relief measures like daily walks, going out with friends and listening to music, and wants planners to know “they are not alone in this journey. [I’m giving] practical takeaways to ease the burn and move on to their next steps.”

Too Much “A” in AI?

In his May 21 session, AI Tools to Transform Your Business, Tim Altbaum, CEO of Vario, aimed to give attendees a comprehensive insight into the latest AI tools directly applicable to the meeting and event planning industry, providing actionable resources that planners could readily integrate into their workflows.

“By highlighting practical tools and platforms, my presentation aims to empower individuals and teams to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness significantly, potentially saving substantial time and resources,” Altbaum told MPI.

While AI is unlikely to “steal jobs” as some may think, there are some risks associated with its growth within the meeting/event industry, Atlbaum acknowledged.

“The primary risks associated with the integration of AI within the event industry are privacy concerns and ethical dilemmas related to copyrighted materials. An illustrative example involves the utilization of AI technology to replicate voices… if the data containing a person’s voice is compromised, it becomes susceptible to unauthorized usage for potentially malicious intents,” he said. “Furthermore, AI’s capacity to analyze vast amounts of online content may inadvertently overlook or fail to disclose the sources used in generating responses… [raising] concerns regarding the appropriate handling of copyrighted materials within event contexts.”

Embracing Trends in F&B

With F&B trends turning more and more toward wellness and sustainability, the May 22 session, Food & Beverage: Unleash Your Superpower—hosted by Denorah Hinson, founding partner of The Hinson Group in partnership with MPI MD—proposed the idea of more creativity in selecting F&B offerings while noting some tasty trends coming down the food chain.

“We’re seeing an increase in collaborations with local chefs, breweries and wine makers, providing an opportunity to showcase local flavors and support to local small businesses. Additionally, alcohol-alternative beverages are still very hot and the whole health and wellness movement continues to grow,” Hinson told MPI.

With 140+ speakers heading more than 70 sessions for nearly 2,500 attendees—not to mention the Career Collectives, Speed Networking and after-hours wing-dings—the schedule was an understated jam-packed. And once MPI staff recovers, the road to 2025 begins.

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