Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is a global organization helping businesses and people by providing human connections to knowledge and ideas, relationships, and marketplaces.
Here are the profiles of four people who have helped and been helped by Meeting Professionals International:
President and CEO, meetGCA
Technology is constantly advancing, but no amount of it replaces human interaction, according to Jim Fausel.
Fausel is president and CEO of meetGCA, a travel management firm that focuses on worldwide meeting and event management.
“Teleconferences are great and they work, but they are complements to what we do,” Fausel says. “The only way to get business is to get in front of people, we can’t just recruit people digitally.”
Technology, however, is not the biggest threat to the industry. According to Fausel, competition is the real concern.
There are so many meeting sources that people have to pick and choose the most effective ones. In turn, too many options are not a good thing, he says.
Fausel says education can help people work around the issue because there are always new ways to do business and attract customers.
“We need to educate our future leaders,” Fausel says. “Students are especially susceptible to new technologies and new ways to find business because they’re less afraid and take more risks. They’re the go-getters.”
Fausel has been working with Meeting Professionals International since 1983 and credits it for laying down the groundwork and establishing the relationships that have helped business grow throughout the years.
“People become part of an organization to use its resources,” he says. “If you have a car parked in a garage but don’t use it, what’s the point?”
Some people scratch their heads wondering what to do, but MPI helps us cut through that question.
“It’s the first step to moving a program,” he says.
Fausel says he contributes new energy and new direction to MPI and encourages the growth of international meetings and events because the international marketplace is the focus, he adds.
You can’t blame Lisa Evans for being a little old fashioned.
Evans has an unwavering confidence in the art of face-to-face communication and the benefits it yields for businesses. She recognizes the technological advancements such as Skype and telecommunication that are innovating interaction, but she still advocates the impact of personal communication.
“There is also a level of inspiration that comes when people are engaging in personal, face to face communication,” says Evans, a planner at Childhelp who serves Meeting Professionals International (MPI) as vice president of Education, Arizona Sunbelt Chapter.
As such, Evans’ focus is on education and business connections, ensuring members quality and relevant education to meet their professional goals. The ideas of one delivered with passion or skepticism sparks others’ minds to go in a different direction, or develop a new idea or understand in a new way,” Evans says.
Though she believes strongly in the positive influence of the meeting industry, she admits that “damage control” poses a threat to its success. “I believe the meetings and event industry missed the mark long ago by not educating the business community on the positive impact that meeting face to face and offering incentive programs can have…” Evans says.
As VP of Education, it only makes sense that Evans cites education as the key to success in the industry. She supports the promotion of meetings through educating businesses on the best practices to meet their meeting or event needs.
Perhaps Evans’ faith in personal interaction in group settings can be credited to the positive impact MPI has had on her business specifically. Childhelp, a non-profit organization for the prevention of child abuse, relies on community involvement, which Evans secures through out-reach meetings and events.
“MPI helps me to stay up to date on best practices, latest technology, and emerging ideas and trends,” she says. “Our economic environment is largely impacted by social factors, and so it is important for social service groups and businesses to work together and find innovative ways to benefit one another.”
Corporate photographer Mark Skalny eyes business through a lens of his own–
A camera lens, to be exact. His fresh perspective as a photographer is among the traits that make him a valuable member of the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) team. Skalny says he believes in the impact of meeting, events and personal interaction despite the growing popularity of alternative technological modes of communication.
“Meetings allow people to ‘be present,’ and in person rather than on an impersonal screen in the front of the room and better able to share and express experiences and differing approaches to the issues at hand,” Skalny says.
Meetings give Skalny the chance to build “community, that core team of professionals, experts, educators and leaders.” It’s this community that he cites as beneficial to his business.
“Interacting with a group of professionals expands my knowledge of the current business climate and challenges me to constantly learn more and in turn grow,” he says. “This is what the MPI organization is all about.”
Skalny says, like many of his peers, he stands by education as the answer to issues facing his industry.
“Education is crucial,” Skalny says. “People need to feel ‘hope’ both in their business and professional worlds. Educating our membership about the state of our economy at home and abroad is key…”
As a photographer, Skalny said he believes he has a rare insight into the art of corporate interaction and, thus, an exclusive opportunity to educate other professionals.
“I am constantly moving about in the business/corporate arena,” he says. “I see and hear, and photograph, what’s new in this world.”
Supplier, DEO Entertainment Group
Face-to-face interaction is still the most valuable way to communicate because it helps build one-on-one relationships, Don Ortiz asserts.
“When you speak in person, you may uncover things that connect you like kids’ birthdays,” Ortiz says. “It also allows people to get a good feel for one another.”
Ortiz is an international music supplier with DEO Entertainment Group and global community chair for the Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. In his job, he travels the globe constantly, which makes him a valuable asset to MPI.
Many of the companies that come to Arizona for business are global companies and having learned their protocols and etiquette are beneficial for MPI, Ortiz says.
“It helps to build long-term relationships,” he says.
But the benefits are mutual, according to Ortiz. MPI enhances his business by helping him establish relationships with the global communication community, he says.
“Greeting people in their language helps break down barriers,” Ortiz says. “Establishing and maintaining relationships is important, especially during times when companies stop spending money for corporate events.”
And even in these uncertain economic times, Ortiz says he is optimistic about the future of the meetings business.
“We’re seeing a bounce back and it trickles down to everybody,” he says. “Companies are doing things that they weren’t doing before now and that will help the industry get back to where it was prior to the recession.
By Malu Banuelos & Megan Mitchell
[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information on Meeting Professionals International, visit their website at www.mpiweb.org.[/stextbox]