With the annual European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) just around the corner, we spoke with Pierre Fernandez, Sr. Director of European Operations at Meeting Professionals International (MPI), to hear about some of the innovative ideas in store for this year’s participants.
Educating meeting professionals
MPI has about 18,000 members globally, including planners with a total buying power estimated at $23 billion. Its annual conference, held in Europe since 1988, was originally known as the Professional Education Conference-Europe (PEC-E), but was renamed in 2008 to the European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC).
The conference focuses on education, enabling meeting professionals to execute the most efficient and rewarding meetings, but networking and business exchange are also key elements. This year’s conference, to be held the 7th-9th of February in Copenhagen, expects to see between 350-400 international attendees from over 20 countries. Lille Grand Palais will be amongst the participants and will also attend the EMEC 16 Hosted Buyer Programme.
This year’s EMEC will be centred on the Danish meeting design concept called Meetovation. Mr Fernandez and some fellow MPI staff members were trained on the concept last year and were so impressed that they immediately applied it to their own internal meetings. He is very enthusiastic to implement Meetovation for the first time at EMEC.
Ann Hansen and Bo Kruger, co-designers of the concept, have worked with the MPI staff to design a brand new EMEC for Copenhagen. They’ll serve as main facilitators and train all other speakers in the method. Participants will not only learn Meetovation skills and tools, but experience application of the concept first hand.
Mr Fernandez explains the four principles of Meetovation, which include achieving active participant involvement, and the importance of creative setups. Another key principle is local inspiration. Events “have to be inspired by the local environment. Most of the time when you attend an event you could be anywhere in the world… you have no feeling of whether you are in Copenhagen or Malaysia. It’s about bringing in local food and activities, things that show you are in a specific environment”, he explains. Sustainable thinking is the fourth principle of Meetovation, something that Mr Fernandez points out will certainly continue to grow in importance, especially given the awareness generated by the recent COP21 event.
Evolution of the industry
The meetings and events industry is rapidly and continuously evolving, primarily due to technology. One change Mr Fernandez mentions is that the focus is no longer just on the event itself, but the before and after as well. There are now a full range of meeting solutions that support planners from the first request for proposal to meeting design tools to databases for analysing the results.
The way people learn has changed, too. “There used to be the speaker with attendees taking notes. Now people work in groups and share knowledge, there is no one ‘voice of God’. It’s collaborate learning rather than top-down”, says Mr Fernandez.
There is also increasing focus on meeting design, with planners rebranding themselves as meeting designers or architects. Mr Fernandez explains that “planners want to understand more deeply what the objectives of the meetings are, the goals of each stakeholder, and they want to design the event around that”. Meetovation will support them in that by helping them to ask the right questions to obtain the desired objectives.
Go to EMEC 2016 and meet Cécile Hodson, International Development Manager of Lille Grand Palais.