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Having known Richard Parker, President of the MPI UK & Ireland chapter, for a number of years, I am aware of MPI's activity and influence on the industry. I kindly accepted an invitation to finally experience an MPI event first-hand and attended the recent MPI Insights: Going Global With Your Events meeting. In addition to being a newbie attendee, I was also invited to co-host a roundtable discussion on strategic meetings management, or SMMP, as is the catchier acronym.

The event took place at the Emirates Stadium, also home to the infamous Arsenal Football Club. For the die-hard Gunners, the private tour of the stadium, including the changing rooms, must have been a highlight. Personally I’m a Manchester City supporter, however I did appreciate the opportunity to view the impressive stadium and its event space in a whirlwind tour tagged on to a coffee break.

But of course the 85ish meetings professionals weren’t just gathered to be wowed by the venue’s state-of-the-art technology and meeting rooms. We were there to learn about how to go global with our events and businesses, and of course to network with colleagues from agencies, corporates, DMCs, convention bureaus and venues.

The presentations were a good mix, offering something for everyone, and parallel sessions meant we had to choose between really good topics. Being a healthcare meetings specialist and self-confessed compliance geek, naturally I selected to attend the compliance session facilitated by Simon Beard. Simon did a great job in extending compliance issues out beyond the realm of the pharmaceutical domain, covering other sectors such as finance and communications.

Dr Eliza Hixson shared her immense research in SMMP and in the round table discussions we provoked good discussion around the topic. Other sessions covered global opportunities, global outlook, innovation, risk, compliance challenges, corporate social responsibility and strategy. As I say, too many topics to choose between, thank goodness I was facilitating one and didn’t have to.

The highlight for me however was undoubtedly the keynote lecture, Trajectory – presented by Tom Johnson. Tom gave insights into global trends, new and expanding markets, new technology and new consumers. There was just so much information and it just kept coming but it was all so interesting. There were many revelatory moments. My favourite was that apparently by the end of this decade we will reach a tipping point and more than 50% of destinations visited for tourism will be in emerging markets. Ethiopia anyone?

The next MPI Insights event will be held on 18 January and will focus on the economic outlook, providing planners and suppliers with an opportunity to prepare for what’s next and benchmark their own businesses.

Lee-Anne Penn is Business Director at Ashfield Meetings & Events.

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