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MPI CEO tells eventprofs: spread our positive message

Paul Van Deventer says event professionals should speak up about the industry's value to help prevent US travel ban

Pictured: Paul Van Deventer, MPI CEO

The CEO of Meetings Professional International (MPI) has urged events professionals at this year's European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) to spread awareness of the industry's true value.

Paul Van Deventer's comments came at the same time President Donald Trump signed a revised travel ban, part of a new attempt to reinstate a halt on immigration from some Muslim-majority countries.

Van Deventer said event professionals could work to put a stop to this new ban, and anything else that would jeopardise the industry, through education.

"The short message is, events professionals should educate themselves so they can educate others," he said.

"We need to understand what positive work the industry is doing, the scope of it and the impact it has on things like job creation and economic development. You can get that information from organisations such as MPI, Meetings Mean Business, and from industry councils… so become well versed in it, and in turn get staff and employees well versed on it.

"Then, tell it to your neighbour, tell it to your local politician. Help them understand the value and so they can think through potential short term reactions that could impact the industry."

Speaking on Brexit, Mr Van Deventer said there was a movement globally towards isolationism, adding: "Any restriction on a freeflow of people and travel is harmful to our industry, and I believe because it's harmful to our industry, it's harmful to the economy."

The MPI EMEC conference has been taking place from 4 - 7 March in Granada, with about 250 meetings professionals in attendance, although final numbers will be revealed following the conference end.

This year saw the introduction of off-shoot meet up groups, where attendees could register their interest in meeting with others based on anything like subject matter or professional role, and conduct smaller face-to-face meetings throughout the conference.

 Van Deventer said this year's conference had also carried on with the Meetovation themes, which was instigated from last year's conference in Copenhagen, and with a strong focus on education.

"We've got general sessions but we're trying to get more creative in our general sessions," he said.

"We want to keep it fast, keep it fun and get knew learnings out of it. We've got flashpoint speakers where they are quick and dynamic, and then we have 30 other general sessions."

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