On Wednesday, February 13th, the MPI Roadshow made a pitstop in Brussels at the Hilton Grand Place. One of the speakers was MPI President and CEO Paul Van Deventer. Erik Wood, CEO of Eventonline, interviewed him about the role of MPI.
EW: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
PVD: I am Paul Van Deventer, currently President and CEO of MPI, for six years now. The bulk of my career I worked in the travel industry for American Express.
EW: What is MPI?
PVD: MPI stands for Meeting Professionals International and is the world’s largest association for professionals who work in the meeting and convention industry. The meeting and convention industry is a trillion-dollar worldwide industry that employs nearly 30 million people. MPI is in that space to help those professionals advance themselves, grow in their careers and advance the industry. We speak on behalf of the industry and on behalf of the individuals who work in the industry.
EW: How do you see the evolution of MPI in Europe or even global?
PVD: MPI is a global organization and we have nearly sixty thousand active members in our community. We have a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including nearly 17,000 engaged members in 70 countries. We have over 70 chapters and clubs around the world. Our two primary markets are North America and Europe, although we have chapters across Asia and South America as well. So, what we are trying to do is ensure that our membership and our community are aware of the benefits of being part of that global network. It’s the ability to join an organization that has local roots and local relevance but with the benefit of the big broad organization around the world with who you can network with, share best practices with.
EW: How can MPI help the Belgian MICE industry?
PVD: MPI’s role is to support professionals in the industry and support the industry itself whether it’s in Belgium or any other country in Europe or around the world. Our role is really to promote the value of live, face-to-face meetings and the incredible destinations that host those meetings. A number of cities in Belgium are very attractive to bring meetings to, whether that’s because of the local infrastructure or the connections that are there. A city like Brussels itself, because of its place as the center of European politics and the center of associations, really is an attractive place to bring meetings to. Our role at MPI is to get that message out and advocate for the value of what these meetings produce.
EW: Why should the Belgian meeting planners join MPI to increase its membership?
PVD: We should increase membership, not just in Belgium, but around the world. Not only with MPI, but with any professional association. To me a professional association is a way to invest in yourself. From our networking opportunities, to our unparalleled education, I want as many individuals as possible to receive the benefits MPI offers. MPI increases your own capabilities, it expands your network, and can increase business experiences and contacts as well. To me, at the end of the day, it’s about your own personal growth. MPI is an organization, that when we meet, we change the world.