On 14 April, the Belgian branch of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) organized an event in the Brussels Information Point (BIP) in the frame of the ‘Global Meetings Industry Day’ (#GMID16). The morning session was devoted to workshops for raising awareness about sustainability in purchasing and zero waste communication. The afternoon session was crowded with interesting keynote speakers presenting different topics.
April 14, was a day when leaders of the meeting and event industry came together to celebrate the first official GMID. With this GMID, MPI wants to demonstrate the impact of the meeting industry on people, our economy and our community.
“The concept of the Global Meeting Industry Day comes from North America (Namid) and has traveled around the globe via Canada, Mexico and Latin America. This was the first global event for 2016. Depending on the different time zones, there were about 88 events organized on this day, of which 45 were MPI events,” explains Pieter Allaerts, outgoing president of MPI.
“The Belgian day was divided into two parts and kicked-off with ‘meetings go green’ in order to try to reduce the ecological footprint. Participants in these sessions work in the hotel and events industry and received tips how to create less waste or which eco-minded vendors they can rely upon,” Mariska Kesteloo explains. “In the afternoon we had five diverse speakers who shared their experience, each with a link to the meeting industry coupled with networking opportunities afterwards.”
A diverse group of speakers took place behind the lectern indeed, i.e. Chris Smith spoke about cultural differences, Michèle Mees tackled gender balance, Lars Sudmann talked about presenting, Jeffer London explained how to launch a conversation into a meeting and Alexandre Bodart Pinto described his experiences on ‘Wheeling around the World’.
A large audience attended the event. “Several attendees, convention bureaus, DMCs, corporates. That is precisely the added value of MPI,” says Pieter Allaerts. “You always meet other people. We have our core group of members who return of course, but among the non-members you can find a very diverse, even international audience, and I think that is precisely the strongpoint of MPI, our global community.”
During #GMID16, a president substitution took place. Indeed, Pieter Allaerts passed the torch to Mariska Kesteloo. “The last five years, I have held several positions on the board of MPI, from organizing ‘educationals’ and networking get-togethers up to the presidency. A responsibility I gladly took during the last two years. According to the statutes of MPI the presidency lasts only a two-year term, and mine ends now. Consequently, I will step aside and hand over the president’s seat to new talent,” says Pieter Allaerts.
“For me it’s a challenge to follow in the footsteps of Peter,” said Mariska Kesteloo. “He has done a lot of preparatory work. We can now focus on strategy and entering into partnerships with other organizations that are active in Belgium.”
“As ‘Past President’ I will remain involved with MPI and continue to give my full support and advice so that our rapidly growing organization can continue to prosper,” Pieter Allaerts adds. “This way, no experience is lost. After all, continuity is important.”
Newly elected MPI president Mariska Kesteloo has set herself three goals already. To clearly position MPI on the market in Belgium, to increase the number of members and to grow the number of board members. “The latter, I want to strongly emphasize. During my time on the board, I learned a lot, my network has grown and moreover you sit on top of the new trends. I would like to convey this message to potential board members in order to attract new candidates to achieve even more in the near future.”
On the agenda for the coming year 2016-2017 plenty of activity is already taking shape: working sessions with other partners and the organization of shorter but more qualitative events. Education, of course, remains the main pillar of MPI.