MPI WEC San Francisco Shines With Optimism and Innovation for Association’s Golden Anniversary

July 1, 2022

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) promised golden opportunities at this year’s World Education Congress (WEC), its signature annual North American event, and it certainly delivered as it ushered attendees into the “new era of events.”

With 2022 marking the association’s 50th anniversary, the Golden State’s iconic city of San Francisco set the stage for an innovatively designed three-day gathering filled with insightful education and keynotes on trending topics, top-notch networking events, celebrations honoring its community members and plenty of opportunities to make meaningful business connections with leading destinations and industry suppliers.  

Held June 21-23 at Moscone Center West, MPI WEC 2022 drew nearly 2,000 total participants, with roughly 1,700 attending in person and 300 attending virtually. With 98 planner participants taking part in the WEC San Francisco hosted buyer program, it totaled 1,575 appointments spread across 163 suppliers representing 94 companies.

“It’s thrilling to be able to celebrate this benchmark [50th anniversary] for the association, but even more meaningful to be able to come together in person after more than two years of the pandemic,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI.

During the two years prior, MPI was the only industry association to successfully hold two hybrid annual conferences during the COVID-19 pandemic. WEC Grapevine in 2020 and WEC Las Vegas in 2021.

The overall in-person turnout for this year’s show and positivity throughout the event were a testament to the community’s resiliency coming out of the worst period of the COVID-19 pandemic and its desire for tools to help reinvent for the “new normal.”  

Van Deventer pointed to the unique format of the event this year to help attendees do just that, adding that the association has been getting recognized on a global basis for the success of its design and execution of WEC.

“For WEC Las Vegas last year, we received a bronze award for event design and execution, which was the fourth consecutive year that we received global recognition from Eventex, which has thousands of entries for events every year,” Van Deventer said. “Here in San Francisco, we had another fantastic new design approach, with the three days set up to be like a theatrical performance with three main acts, each with a different theme and intent.”

Jessie States, vice president of the MPI Academy led the development of the novel design, working with George P. Johnson, an event experience and marketing company. The three-act experience was designed to deliver immediately actionable and impactful content each day through engaging general sessions and concurrent education. WEC’s professional development was focused on delivering a daily theme, and general sessions specifically featured thematic conversations and keynotes. Following are some of the highlights:

  • Act 1: New World, New Perspectives
    • Keynote: Riaz Meghji, Every Conversation Counts
    • Tech Talks–Secrets of the Event Technology Marketplace: Ben Chodor of Notified, Leonard Chung of Cisco, Chuck Ghoorah of Cvent
       
  • Act 2: Your Pathway to Professional Enlightenment
    • Keynote: Denise Soler Cox, The Magic of Belonging
    • Test, Iterate and Go Big, Designing Experiences That Matter: Suzanne Fritz Hanson of GPJ, Katy D’Amico of Cisco, Pamela Gonzalez of Salesforce and Polly Israni of Google Cloud
       
  • Act 3: Past, Present & Future—Your Call to Action
    • Keynote: Brian Allan, Stand Up–Awaken the Superhero in You
    • When We Meet, We Change the World…But How?: Amanda Armstrong of Encore, Bonnie Carlson of the Bloomington CVB, Kevin Iwamoto of Bizly, Zoe Moore of Grow with Zomo, Dan Noyce of IMEX

Evening events continued to carry forward the WEC tradition of providing destination-specific activity that brought the entire MPI community together in an engaging and fun environment for networking and fun at spectacular local venues, including the following:

  • June 21, Opening Ceremony: Oracle Park, sponsored by Giants Enterprises
  • June 22, Presidents Dinner: Hilton Union Square, honoring MPI Chapter Presidents and Brian Stevens
  • June 23, Rendezvous Closing Ceremony: San Francisco City Hall, benefiting the MPI Foundation and sponsored by SF Travel

Following is the lineup for future WEC locations:

  • 2023: WEC Mexican Caribbean (June 12-15; details at mpi.org/WECMexico)
  • 2024: WEC Louisville
  • 2025: WEC St. Louis
  • 2026: WEC San Antonio

Photo credit: MPI/Soliman Productions 

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