After more than a year of lockdowns, it felt so good to be at MPI’s WEC in Las Vegas, June 15-17. To kick start the week’s events, I even got upgraded to a Delta One Suite—a sign of many good things to come.
My fellow co-founder Shirley Smith and I, along with our VP of Business Relations Kim Ritten, went to MPI WEC to soak up the education, camaraderie, and in-person experiences we have been craving since the pandemic began.
- People were absolutely thrilled to be back in person. The atmosphere was electric, and the desire to do business was strong. From encounters with planners on the elevator, in the check-in line, and at sessions, it was clear they were excited to be in Las Vegas for this event and ready to look towards the future.
- During the US Travel Meetings Mean Business Board Meeting, the leadership team shared key insights into how the industry is working together to remove barriers and make it possible for meetings to be held in person safely across the country, both now and in the future, with crucial changes to regulations.
- The Meetings Mean Business Board is launching the “Let’s Meet There” campaign to create awareness and interest in how meetings can safely be conducted moving forward.
- Roger Dow shared that in his recent meetings with airline CEOs, they shared that no cases of COVID have been linked directly to air travel.
- The second goal of the program is to officially separate professional meetings and events from large group gatherings for future potential crises.
- In the destination marketing session, CVBs shared that destination sales and marketing require more communication and involvement with partners in today’s environment. The CVBs said they are working to find the right mix of communication for attendees on reopening. The need for hybrid meetings continues, especially for international attendees who still can’t travel.
- With the reopening discussions, a considerable conversation was being had around destinations’ involvement in workforce development to assist partners in growing hospitality talent. This was a subject prior to COVID. Since the pandemic, many have left the hospitality industry, causing great concern and service needs for the industry to meet the standards for meetings and conventions. This could be felt throughout our visit to Las Vegas for the conference, as there were limited services at the hotels and restaurants that were clearly struggling to meet the demands of a fast reopening with talent acquisition. Destinations are working to identify their role in this issue and how they can help. As some destinations mentioned, it is an issue that needs addressing as some planners are starting to add service clauses to contracts to prevent a motel experience at a four-diamond or higher hotel.
- The MPI Board’s long-term planning revolves around 24 pillars for the future. The highlights of those include the industry’s investments in technology for groups, professional development for members, diversity, equity and inclusivity, social responsibility, and continuing to be a premier global organization that is inclusive and collaborative. MPI knows the MPI chapter network and experience are critical to the success of the overall organization.
On LinkedIn, I saw these thoughts from Julius Solaris, Head of Engagement for Swapcard, regarding the conference. I had to share, as they are such a great list of feelings from MPI WEC!