The energy at the opening session of Meeting Professionals International’s European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) at the Hilton Brighton Metropole last week was palpable.
That was because this single event represented everything that everyone in the room had been through in the past three years—coinciding almost exactly with the date of the 2020 lockdown. EMEC had originally been scheduled to take place in Brighton in 2021, then was moved to Frankfurt to coincide with IMEX, then IMEX was canceled—and so on—and there we were, more than 300 of us, as it finally took place in 2023.
Emcees Richard Allchild, Head of Sales North America, IMEX Group, and Suzanne Medcalf Mulligan, Head of Engagement, IMEX Group, came up on stage to greet the audience with Richard holding Cal, Suzanne’s baby boy, who is just about to turn 1. When the planning for this event had started, Cal had not even been born, and her other son, Finn—3 1/2 years old and too shy to join his brother in front of all those people—had been just 5 months old when he took the stage at the 2020 EMEC in Seville to announce EMEC 21 in Brighton. It was the perfect way to illustrate the enormity of this unforgettable passage of time.
EMEC was packed with meaningful moments like this, and its roster of high-profile speakers was a virtual who’s who of industry leaders, including Martin Boyle, CEO, International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO); Carina Bauer, CEO, and Tahira Endean, Head of Programme, IMEX Group; Annette Gregg, CEO, and Pádraic Gilligan, Chief Marketing Officer, SITE; Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council; Mark Cooper, CEO, International Association of Conference Centers (IACC); and Senthil Gopinath, CEO, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
The host city of Brighton is home to the IMEX headquarters, and its team was instrumental in bringing the meeting there and lending its support. Even in March, this vibrant seaside city did not disappoint. Brighton is known for its vacation vibe, yet has retained its Victorian charm and was once home to King George IV, who came there for the therapeutic properties of the sea. The meeting’s activities and events took advantage of its oceanfront venues, including a ride on the i360, with views of the city from 450 feet up; an opening night at the food court at Shelter Hall; and the MPI Rendezvous fundraising evening at Brighton Palace Pier, featuring entertainment by SongDivision.
Prevue joined a U.S. meeting planner group hosted by VisitBritain/MeetEngland, who spent a couple of days prior to EMEC touring London with the London Convention Bureau before heading to Brighton.
“I found EMEC to be extremely educational, both the plenary sessions and the breakouts,” said Nicole Ferrara, travel account manager, Maritz Global Events, one of the participants. “Padraic Gilligan’s “5 Things to Know About Incentive Travel in a Post-Pandemic World” very informative and it was my favorite of all the breakouts. And I loved hearing from other meeting professionals, as well as from our hotel, DMC and DMO partners. I hope I get the chance to attend this event next year and reconnect with the new people I met.”
You May Also Be Interested In…
GMID 2023 to Showcase Why Meetings Matter
Meetings Mean Business Coalition Integrates with U.S. Travel
Industry VIPs on the Future of Events