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Renewed Optimism

by 243684 Holly Duckworth | Feb 04, 2013
Why MPI members feel the industry’s best days lay ahead.

The nightly news and conventional wisdom tell us things are bad and getting worse. Now that we have survived the 12/21/12 “Mayan Apocalypse,” it’s time to recognize that we as an industry have the power to unify to truly create an optimistic future. We touch every industry across the planet—from associations to corporations and beyond, all organized groups build community through meetings and events. Now we must be the change we want to see, because if we do not create it and become it, who will?

I recently came across the book What Are You Optimistic About? Today’s Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better by John Brockman, in which he asked 150 of the world’s greatest minds that single question. Now is the time to stop focusing on the negative; let’s embrace optimism. Our industry is full of people who love what they do. (Read member success stories through the “I am MPI, I Love What We Do” campaign at www.mpiweb.org/stories.) So, what are we, as a global industry, optimistic about?

It takes planners and suppliers to come together with innovation and optimism to create this industry, so I asked a cross-section of MPI members: “What are you optimistic about?” Curiously, I discovered people were hesitant to truly step out and be positive. Yet, respondents shared common themes such as growing optimism from the new, global-minded young talent pool and acknowledging the need to speak as once voice. Now is the time to declare that the best days of this industry are not behind us but ahead of us.

I am optimistic that as I review Brockman’s book, written in 2007, that many of the optimistic stories shared have already become a reality. I am optimistic that the visualizations that MPI members and leaders shared for this story will become a reality as we look back on this moment in time a few years down the road. I share these personal statements of optimism knowing that many of you are optimistic as well. So share your optimism and let’s grow a chain of positivity for the future today.


“I’m very optimistic about the young leadership I see come up throughout the industry,” said Steven Foster, CMP, CTA, managing partner at Foster+Fathom and chair of the MPI Chapter Advisory Council. “They demonstrate a willingness to be involved and serve. Our young leadership represents the future, and they are primed to share new ideas and influence.”

The Talent Pool

“Just as meetings can no longer plod along the same path year over year, neither can we as the professionals who plan and supply for them,” said Allison Kinsley, CMM, CMP, chief meeting architect at Kinsley Meetings and an MPI board member. “We must become smarter, outcome-focused, fiscally responsible and socially in-tune. The quality of the industry’s talent pool both amongst seasoned planners and new planners coming out of university programs is strong and will help us continue this evolution.”

Tell Our Story

“I’m bullish on the meeting industry; we are still young as an industry, and now is the time to stop talking to ourselves about the good things we do and talk to others,” said Kevin Hinton, executive vice president of Associated Luxury Hotels International and chair of the MPI board of directors. “We need to let people know about meeting planning as a profession and that people don’t just show up and there is a meeting. I am optimistic that we continue to grow up as an industry and take control of our future. I know our opportunities are limitless when we come together.”

Unified Voice

Shannon Derrick, CMP, senior director of global sales with Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and a member of the MPI Potomac Chapter, recognizes optimism as we transcend both the economic recession and the unfortunate industry scandals.

“The future of our industry is positive,” he said. “In part because of these events we have become a unified voice. We are pulling together all of our resources to ensure our voice is heard in Washington, D.C., and around the world so our industry will thrive.”


Laurel Humbert, CMP, president and CEO of Meeting Resources Unlimited Inc. and a member of the MPI Pittsburgh Chapter, demonstrated optimism through a recent informal survey conducted with one of her clients after a meeting. The No. 1 reason for attending was to connect with colleagues, and qualitative comments such as, “This meeting gives us the opportunity to interact with colleagues and to explore further or varied applications of our subject matter.”

We are starting to see our meetings as the center for connections. Innovative professionals are looking at meetings in a new way and breaking down traditional rules. They look at meetings that don’t have set start and end times, and instead the meetings they produce are gateways to people and information. 

More Meetings

“Corporations are bringing back annual meetings. This, coupled with increased attendance, is a sign of optimism not only in the meeting industry but in many related industries,” said Robert Ferguson, vice president of business development for muv and a member of the MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter.


“I am positive that we will be able to strengthen our industry with more accredited courses around the world gradually advancing the professionalism of our industry,” said Samme Allen, head of sales - business events at Barbican Centre and a member of the MPI United Kingdom and Ireland Chapter. “This coupled with our ongoing partnerships with other associations in our sector makes us stronger.” 


“It is great to see organizations include meeting professionals as stakeholders in the process of meetings and how they impact the overall part of an organization’s well being,” said Naomi Tucker, CMP, project manager of meeting and event planning with Humana and president of the MPI Wisconsin Chapter. “As meeting planners within organizations embrace components of the strategic management process to direct and lead meetings we have the opportunity to develop solutions that bring light to the intricate challenges that meeting planners face internally.”


“There is truly optimism in sustainable meetings that this is a way of working that benefits everyone,” said Fiona Pelham, managing director for Sustainable Events Ltd. and a member of the MPI United Kingdom and Ireland Chapter.

For today’s meeting professionals, sustainability should not simply be about recycling. It’s not about meals that are fresh, local, organic or sustainable, it’s about nourishment of your meeting attendees where people connect deeper and grow together. Sustainability makes good business sense, and by incorporating this into meetings now we will be at the forefront of sustainability for many industries. One+

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