For meeting planners, it takes a while before one master the fine craft of organizing a corporate or association event of any type or size, from compact conferences to sprawling tradeshows. The checklist of people to see, and things to do, is almost endless but necessary for ensuring a successful outcome. After a few years of doing just that, one might easily slip into the mindset that he or she has it all down pat – except for the fact that the world is always changing. Different problems present themselves from time to time, changing the best-laid plans in a nanosecond and creating even more checklists. Somehow, though, planners muster through it all, and, hey, new challenges often make us better at what we do.
Take a look at the award-winning MPI which just hosted its hugely popular WEC (World Education Congress) in Mexico. Now in its 27th year, the last five destinations included:
- Indianapolis, IN (2018)
- Toronto, ON (2019)
- Grapevine, TX (2020)
- Las Vegas, NV (2021)
- San Francisco, CA (2022)
But, for 2023, MPI presented a destination to the industry that was quite a sea. In fact, it was worthy of headline news as it was the very first-time MPI took WEC outside the U.S. or Canada. The 2023 destination? Riviera Maya, Mexico. Quite a difference from, say, midwestern Indianapolis.
Why the Change?
The backstory here was that WEC2023 was originally scheduled to convene in another U.S. city but that destination asked for the event to be moved to a later date. MPI complied and then reopened the RFP process. Riviera Maya, Mexico, was the emerging winner. If readers are unfamiliar with Riviera Maya, it’s currently one of Mexico’s most popular destinations and is located on the Yucatan Peninsula just south of Cancun.
Well, check off “Mission Accomplished” as WEC2023 was held last June 12-15 at the Barcelo Maya Riviera Resort with great success. According to a recent press release, opening night’s “Espectacular Show” was held at the Xcaret Nature Park and the President’s Dinner was held at the Hilton Tulum, one of Mexico’s newest hotels. The closing event was a beachfront party held at the host resort.
From the huge response, it seemed that all of Riviera Maya was out there supporting the group at all its on-and-off site gatherings. No one could be more pleased – on both sides of the fence.
Realizing A Dream
According to MPI’s Senior Vice President Annette Gregg, “The support from the community there (was) extraordinary. Mexico is the fastest-growing region of MPI’s membership, and all of our Latin America clubs and chapters (came) together to create an unforgettable experience, immersed in the local culture.”
Furthermore, according to Michel Wohlmuth, CEO of Creatividad in Mexico City, a member of MPI’s International Board of Directors and former president of the MPI Mexico Chapter, it was nothing less than a dream come true. As he reminds all planners: “Dreaming is the first step to achieving a goal. Four years after (a) talk with (MPI president) Paul Van Deventer and Darren Temple (former COO), the dream was ready to materialize thanks to the work of an infinite number of people. Bringing WEC to Mexico (was) extremely exciting. It fills me with joy because it (was) the perfect showcase to make known, worldwide, the incredible destination that Mexico is for the organization of congresses, conventions, and incentive trips.”
According to an official MPI announcement, “In a time of industry resurgence, MPI chose a destination that has shown exciting signs of growth. The MPI community in Mexico has grown 60 percent since 2019….”
WEC2023, held at the all-inclusive Barcelo resort in the Mexican Caribbean, showcased how business education and connections can successfully take place in non-traditional settings, creating an event of many firsts.
- The first WEC held in Mexico
- The first large-scale industry event held at an all-inclusive Mexican resort
- The first WEC to feature enhanced programming, boasting five general sessions and four keynote speakers
The event had nearly 1,500 total participants with close to 1,400 – attending in-person, along with almost 150 attending virtually. Of the in-person attendees, more than 600 were event planners and the Latin American community represented more than 100 in total. In addition, more than 120 planners participated in the hosted buyer program, totaling 2,300 appointments spread across 140 suppliers.
For the uninitiated, the resort city Riviera Maya was a real star here and it is conveniently located 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport. It has an excellent convention center with 38 breakouts for up to 3,000 people and a variety of new and pre-existing hotels and resorts surrounding it. According to one source, no new hotel is built here without having meeting space to support the importance of the event market.
Did MPI go out on a limb here? Well, it did its homework, and all the research supported the final decision to do something different for a change. But, for a leading meeting and event planning organization, it was a move away from its comfort zone, almost a last-minute decision. They’re still talking about its huge success.