Highlights from MPI World Education Conference 2016!
My annual long blog Highlights of WEC.
I’ve been going to the Meeting Professionals International World Education Conference for at least 10 years now and this highlights blog always gets the most hits, so here we go. The first thing to note is that I’d never been to Atlantic City and really didn’t have any expectations. I heard many comments before the trip varying from new and improved, best ever to “still a dump”. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and no, Sheldon, it’s not just like Vegas without the Salt Water Taffy. It has an ocean – something Vegas can’t achieve no matter how much money they throw at it.
Change of date – Good! MPI noted at least 200 newcomers. I met so many first timers and connected with a client that typically can never make the later dates. I found it fresh, exciting and beneficial on many levels. I think it helped my marriage too, because the later dates are usually over my wedding anniversary.
General Session – You spin me right round? Seems to be some mixed reviews on theater in the round. Some people had a hard time figuring out where to focus… I loved it; kept me on my toes. I talked with my friend, executive producer, Rebecca Coons with Nalu Creative about it. She said it was a very mindful and purposeful decision to have it in the round with the goal of doing exactly that – keeping attention to the show and not your phone. I made sure to not sit in the same place and tried out all the unique furniture configurations. The MC – 5 Gold Stars for Dena Blizzard, she is definitely #onefunnymother.
Entertainment – Holy Headliners Batman! One after the other, up-close and personal. When Train started a Zeppelin cover, I held my breath, thinking…boy you are messing with some holy grail music here and… they rocked it -who knew Pat Monahan was in a Led Zeppelin cover band before Train?! Rick Springfield for lunch, why yes! And he’s still got it at 66! I saw him leave after the show and he was so nice: taking selfies with
everyone who asked. Water Coolers with the Carry On Binder Song – Amazing! The Poet, Kris Allen from American Idol, Red Foo from LMFAO, return of the best of the best custom video content celebrity DJ Roonie G.
The newcomer in the bunch was DJ cb shaw. He starred in the opening reception and closed it down after Train – wow he was great. Survey: DJ cb shaw, hot or not? His spinning: HOT but he’s cute in a unique Aryan, Surfer, Viking, Vampire sort of way – so if you into that, too bad he’s taken!
Phones, rant! People, be in the moment and watch the show live, not through your phone, please! Take the selfie and a clip and then put the phone down and enjoy! At one point I couldn’t see anything but a sea of armpits and glowing phones. (Shout out to my friends who have started the BE IN THE MOMENT movement.)
Opening Reception – SCORE! Thank God for beautiful weather! I don’t know how they would have captured the NJ Shore and AC Boardwalk in a backup ballroom. The Opening Night was absolutely wonderful to explore and they had Veuve Clicquot at the bar! And was it just me or was every chef extra good looking? Yes, maybe I had one to many smoked chicken sliders.
Unique Food Moment – UMMMM??? What is it??? As a foodie I love looking for the unique win or failure. Don’t get me wrong, I love hard-working Chefs that are always pushing boundaries -most of the food was superb in AC. However, every year I look for something not-so-right. Remember last year’s weird Chia pudding or the year of the boiled chicken longest awards lunch ever? This year’s food award for “Umm, What is it?” goes to the short rib beef cannoli…not that it tasted bad but it was really…really…really…mushy. Please do not puree meat again, please.
Education – Participant not Attendee mantra! My ah-ha moment was at how to multiple time. Got my doodle on and Michael Dominguez never lets me down. His depth of knowledge on the pulse of industry is always enthralling. But when, oh when, as an industry are we going to find a solution for overcrowded session, standing room only or locked out? Yes, we are all supposed to dutifully pre-signup on the app so they can figure out what will be the popular sessions. My question is, if I did sign up early, why can’t I get in? QUESTION: Do you think that with today’s technology some sort of electronic priority ticketing system if you signed up beforehand is realistic?
Hosted Buyer – This was my first year as a hosted buyer, not the super Saturday stuff, just the 10 appointments option. I was shopping for a new app for my client so it was great to meet with all the technology suppliers and compare apples to apples in real time. This was a great value to me. However, the signage and layout was AWFUL: practically impossible to move thru back-to-back appointments in a timely manner.
Networking – The serendipity of casually meeting a great new connection or friend is wonderful but I’d still love to see some more structure or technology in this area. Still pretty much a crap shoot on who you will meet.
Orlando – Being from Orlando and away at WEC when everything went tragic I want to deeply thank MPI Leadership for the comments and the moment of silence and my orange ribbon. For a bit it was difficult to stay focused on the conference but I felt a sense of one community support – thank you.
Closing Reception – Two word buzz: –Grilled Lobster! It was upstairs on the open air deck vs. in the biosphere – be sorry if you missed it. Two more – Red Foo! Happy dance! Truth – I owned that bright alien green Kia Soul, had a stuffed hamster in the front seat, an “Everyday I am Shufflin'” bumper sticker and the song on continuous loop…until someone suggested that it’s awkward for a 45-year-old professional woman to have so much fun driving. I now have a beige Sorento, sigh. Think I am going to get a big monster truck next to make up for lost fun car time.
Length of conference – I asked around and the verdict seems to be that the length of the conference could be cut down by a half of a day. Close it after lunch. The last sessions were barely attended and although the party is great and all, most people that have to travel for a living would rather get home and see their family. Thoughts?
Ok, that’s it. I’d love to hear your take on this year’s WEC. See you in Vegas, baby!