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MPI CEO Paul Van Deventer: Face-to-Face Experiences Are Critically Important

IMEX 2017

Meeting and event industry leaders from around the world united on Monday to deliver a message of unity, support and strength in the wake of recent natural disasters and the tragic shooting a week ago in Las Vegas that claimed 58 lives.

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, welcomed attendees to MPI’s Smart Monday opening keynote at the IMEX America industry trade show with a message to the many communities that have been impacted in the last month by hurricanes, flooding and, most recently, the shooting eight days ago at an event in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“I am joined here on stage with my friends and colleagues, all leaders in our industry, to together demonstrate the strength of this community and the importance of standing together and standing strong,” Van Deventer said. “Over the past year, our industry has been impacted by an unprecedented number and scope of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, the latest being the senseless, horrific and tragic incident that occurred Sunday evening, right here on the Las Vegas strip in the heart of the global events industry.

“But as I witness this horrific string of incidents, I continue to be awed and amazed by how we stand together to support each other in times of crisis.”

Van Deventer was joined on stage by Brian Stevens, CEO of Conference Direct and chair of MPI’s International Board of Directors; keynote speaker Janet Sperstad; Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group; Chandra Allison, senior vice president of sales at The Venetian/The Palazzo Resort Hotel & Casino; Ray Bloom, chairman and founder of the IMEX Group; Bradley Kent, senior vice president/chief sales officer for Visit Dallas; Richard Harper, executive vice president, HelmsBriscoe; and Michael Massari, senior vice president, Caesars Entertainment.

“This is a strong, powerful and caring community,” Van Deventer said. “As a community, we must continue to advocate for the critical importance of face-to-face experiences, while also focusing on enhancing the safety and security of our attendees.”

Van Deventer thanked Carina Bauer and the IMEX Group for their commitment to move forward with IMEX America, which will bring 5,500-plus global event professionals and 3,200-plus exhibitors from more than 130 countries to Las Vegas for education, networking and face-to-face business meetings.

“I commend IMEX for their immediate, firm and courageous commitment to this conference, and I commend our community for how we have banded together, throughout these incidents and across the world, to support each other and to support our industry,” Van Deventer said before asking attendees to join him in a moment of silence and reflection.

“Thank you for being here and for being part of our community,” he told attendees. “When we meet, we change the world, and you are the catalyst and inspiration behind live events. We thank you for your contributions to our industry. Stand strong, Vegas strong!”

About the Author

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.