The 50th anniversary celebration of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) will be celebrated at World Education Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco next week with an estimated 2,000 meeting professionals from all over the world. Here is what you need to get the most out of your time whether you experience it in-person or by dipping into some of the keynotes online.

Read the backstory about the expansion of Moscone Center.

An Intentional Journey

The overall attendee experience was holistically crafted to build on the themes of “perspective,” “approach” and “action,” according to Paul Van Deventer, MPI president and CEO. The content, layout and even the evening activations were designed as a sort of three-act-play, each speaker sourced with help from internal and external experts to support the message and woven throughout the entire experience. In addition to traditional campfires, wellness lab and playground, the program invited attendees to choose what, where and how they want to access the journey.

Sessions can be filtered by an array of skill areas—creativity, complex problem solving and persuasion to emotional intelligence, network building, for example. Exploration areas include Valuegraphics workshops, a virtual reality station, PaintFest and Tech Zone discovery space.

The first day will focus on perspective: The evolution of the industry requires a fresh approach to the skills and abilities professionals need to excel. At the same time, the health and wellbeing of the community serves as a guiding principle for how to create well experiences and well workplaces.

The second day will look at ways to approach a new era of professional development demonstrated by a new digital badging platform that enables community members to amplify recognition for continuing education by verifying new skills and abilities. This expanded approach takes a broader look at the global workforce to better understand the top priorities among teams and organizational members.

The final day is all about action. MPI’s new Certified college and university program, HMCC Verified Venues and Emerging Meeting Professional (EMP) designation will take center stage.

At the time of our call, Van Deventer was fresh off attending IMEX Frankfurt in Germany and optimistic about the resiliency of the industry, but cautious about the new challenges posed by staffing issues and the possibility of a recession. “This is not just the reunion, but an attempt to answer the question: How do we do business and confront the new challenges?

“Think about what you want to come away with,” Van Deventer suggested. “There will be a lot of activations and options so consider your purpose. Why are you there? Personal development? Business Growth? Making new connections?” The agenda was designed so each attendee can craft an experience that fits their purpose.

One final piece of advice? “Make time for follow-ups with all the people you met and caught up with because it goes fast,” he said.

Gold Celebration

This new programming will take place against a background of nostalgia marking MPI’s 50th anniversary. “This started as a grassroots organization to help each other out and it is no different today at its basic principles,” said Van Deventer. “It is still led by volunteers focused on supporting each other. These are people passionate about their business.”

The milestone is being celebrated throughout the year by honoring those who have gotten the organization to this point, but at the gathering, they will be acknowledged with a walk of stars. It will also feature the stories of members who have taped videos of what the organization means to them.

Because WEC will focus on the in-person this year, there will be a lighter touch with the general sessions and one concurrent session throughout the day, but an online host will guide and facilitate for the remote audience.

The 50th celebration, however, will live on online where everyone can share in recognizing the contributors who have been part of the organization over the years. “What is exciting is how the community has embraced this,” Van Deventer said.

Fast Future

Not everything will be looking back, however. Future Leaders Forum will focus on what is next. The initiative started almost 20 years ago by IMEX and MPI has partnered to further workforce development by engaging hospitality students. “We want to broaden the funnel even more,” Van Deventer said. The goal is to reach kids in junior high and high school, so they consider hospitality as a career, rather than a job to do to make money before their real lives start.

Eat, Do, Be Seen in SF

If it has been a minute since you have visited San Francisco, you may find a lot more to explore. We asked Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association, for tips on where to eat, what to do and how to take the best Instagram picture.

3 places to eat near Moscone

  1. Pazzia Restaurant, Italian (337 Third Street)
  2. Bluestem Restaurant & Market, American (1 Yerba Buena Lane)
  3. Luce, Modern American (888 Howard St., Ste. 3011)

Bonus for pizza, Zero Zero, (826 Folsom St.)

3 things to do while in the city

  1. Visit one of the many incredible museums in Yerba Buena near Moscone Center, including SFMOMA, MoAD or The Contemporary Jewish Museum.
  2. Walk along the Embarcadero to take in the scenery and Bay Bridge and visit the Ferry Building to explore its restaurants and artisanal shops.
  3. Visit the Presidio of San Francisco, a national park within city limits that offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge; checkout the spectacular new Presidio Tunnel Tops opening on July 17.

3 Instagram spots

  1. Battery Spencer overlook on the northside of the bridge (with the Golden Gate Bridge in the foreground and San Francisco in the background)
  2. Bernal Heights Park (for a beautiful panorama of the city and Pacific Ocean beyond)
  3. PIER 7 (for great views of the Bay and the Financial District)