Attendees at Meeting Professionals International WEC held this week at MGM Grand Las Vegas Resort & Casino experienced a valuable mix of educational session and a couple of real-time learning experiences as well.
The theme of this year’s Meeting Professionals International WEC was, “Stop planning meetings, start designing experiences,” and the event cleverly played off that in many ways. A new partnership with the International Association of Conference Centers featured the latest 360 degree tech/virtual reality tech, as well as a peek into the meeting room of the future.
Thought-provoking sessions focused on developing meaningful networking for attendees (“conversational cocktails”) and “radically welcoming” events. The Exchange Floor was anything but an exhibit hall, with food breaks, a slo-mo video booth and head shot area, a slick mixed vegetable juice bar and an indoor farming section where attendees enjoyed salads created from just-picked greens.
The conference itself became a learning experience when, on the opening night, the speakers, including Deepak Choprah, had been scheduled to start at cocktail hour and ran far over their allotted time, leaving hungry attendees and a half-empty Park Theater as people slipped away to the The Park at MGM for the opening reception starring the B-52’s. President and CEO Paul Van Deventer publicly apologized for the unfortunate timing the next day, openly acknowledging that part of meeting planning was learning from mistakes.
Van Deventer and his team were then faced with an even bigger challenge that night when the next day’s keynote speaker, Magic Johnson, canceled at the last minute. This time, they decided to teach what they had learned, convening a panel to discuss how they handled the crisis and filled the time slot (by bringing in a dance troupe, Jabbawockeez, and having the chef demonstrate how to build chocolate sculptures). Attendees were able to ask questions in real-time using the Slido app.
WEC attracted 2,500 registered attendees to the MGM Grand, which is on par with the previous WEC held in Las Vegas in 2013. Next year’s WEC will be held June 2 to 5 in Indianapolis.