Meeting Professionals International has 70 chapters worldwide with 24,000 members who service and support the meetings industry. The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter’s membership currently stands at 532, and is comprised of meeting planners and suppliers who partner to organize and serve the meetings industry across the globe.
With statistics like that, who could doubt the importance and value of MPI as a resource for those in the industry? Not its members, that’s for sure.
Mark McMinn, CMP, director of sales for the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau and vice president of finance for the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, has been associated with the organization for 20 years and a member of the local group since 2001.
In that time, he has experienced first-hand the resources the group offers. He says “education, relevant content to the industry and career advancement and knowledge, marketplace connections to further my business contacts and sales, and being in a community of like-minded professionals and people who understand what you do, and who want to make sure you are successful in the marketplace” are some of the most important aspects of his MPI membership.
Regarding resources, McMinn points to MPI’s directory, available online and in print, as a great place to find a member.
“After you have found us, give any one of the members a call and doors are opened for you,” he says. “A wealth of information can be gained through one phone call or e-mail. It’s the power of connection. There are many resources that can be found at MPI: best practices, forms, directories, books and publications, speakers, subject matter experts, legal advice, discounts, and so much more.”
Beyond that, McMinn says education is MPI’s best resource.
“You can learn so much from our education resources online and at a monthly chapter meeting or at one of our fantastic conferences,” he says.
McMinn adds that with MPI “you are connected to so many professionals like yourself that you are instantly able to get what you need, when you need it from some of the finest professionals in the meetings business.”
Beth Longnaker, site selection specialist with Scottsdale-based Hospitality Performance Network and vice president of membership for MPI’s Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, is all about helping MPI members maximize their memberships and make the most of their involvement with the organization. She even developed the global development committee and has been active on various other committees during the course of her membership.
She agrees that the education aspect is a great tool MPI members can take advantage of, including earning accreditations and certifications within specific specializations.
Longnaker says networking, industry discounts and the MPI global directory are some of the most beneficial resources MPI has to offer, even though, in her opinion, the latter does not get utilized as often as it should.
“People don’t use the directory enough and they don’t use their references enough,” she says. “They need to utilize those connections.”
In addition to the online directory, Longnaker cites as wonderful resources some of the online programs available via the international Web site.
“There are subject boards, special interest groups and programs,” she says. “You can go on and gain knowledge of current trends, and you can ask questions and get honest answers because there are more than 20,000 professionals around the world from which to get feedback.”
Longnaker believes there is always an opportunity to learn something new within the forum of MPI, because it constantly presents new products and tools to help its members keep on top of current trends.
As a site selection specialist, Longnaker acts as a liaison between her client and the hotel they are negotiating a contract with, and she finds the knowledge she gains via MPI invaluable.
“My goal is to present the most beneficial contract for all involved,” she says.
MPI has given Longnaker the tools to offer her clients better opportunities.
“I have the personal knowledge to make qualified referrals and it offers a validity in my profession,” she says.
McMinn encourages MPI members to take full advantage of all the resources available to them.
“Use your membership to the fullest and you have the meetings industry at your fingertips,” he says. “It’s like having a secret handshake … but there is no secret.”