Discouraged but not deterred

It’s a good thing I turned in my WEC YouTube video before I received the news below!  🙂

Today I found out that I did not qualify for MPI’s Hosted Buyer Program for the World Education Congress (WEC).  I am really disappointed, as this is the second time I’ve been turned down for this program.  I tried not to lash out too much, but found myself sending emails around to find out what the deal was.   I was also concerned about hotel arrangements.  From what I knew, the Hosted Buyer Program – if you qualified – would make all the arrangements for you.  So I waited to hear back before making a reservation.  This wasn’t the best idea, as now many of the hotels I would have liked to have stayed at are booked solid.  (side note, if attending – book your hotel now!)

After sending a few emails around, I received a phone call from MPI.  And I’m really happy that they reached out to me – it goes to show that they value their Members.   The Hosted Buyer program and the process that the applications go through was explained to me, and made much more sense.  But there are some definite changes that need to be made to the program and to MPI events – in particular the pricing structure.

I don’t want to spend my time whining about not being able to afford to go to WEC, because it’s clear that I plan to attend.  But here’s the issue.

I currently work for a non-profit trade association.  Our budgets are tight and meeting locations are locked into certain areas.  We don’t  have the large budgets that attract suppliers from around the world, nor do we hold events outside of our immediate area.  We don’t have the global power of the corporate world or the private sector.  So how can we ever qualify for the Hosted Buyer Program? We are under the watchful eye of a board of directors, who don’t always support outside activities.  Many times when planners like myself want to attend events or conferences to advance their own education, careers or networking circles, they must do it on their own dime.  This can be a HUGE expense.

I think it’s important that MPI consider adjusting their registration prices for the non-profit and association level planners.  Of course I’m biased, but coming from someone who has been to WEC in the past, there are so many of us who would benefit from this experience.  And the biggest reason we don’t attend? Cost.   I personally believe the second biggest reason is lack of support from employers.

MPI’s WEC provides attendees with an experience that shouldn’t be missed. We need to figure out a way to educate employers so they will support their planners, help alleviate the cost to attend (I know we can’t give scholarships to everyone), and increase the size of the Hosted Buyer Program (HB) so that it incorporates smaller budgets and events.  And if increasing the size of the HB program isn’t doable, what other programs can we create to attract the smaller planners?  Some incentive for attending suppliers to host a planner?  A big brother/big sister program for planner attendees?  I’m just throwing this out there…thoughts?

On a final note, my fingers are still crossed to hear back regarding the Social Media Guru application… I might be discouraged but you can’t knock me down for long!

I’ll see YOU in Vancouver!


4 thoughts on “Discouraged but not deterred

  1. Vanessa: Really appreciate the fair and balanced way you’ve approached this situation. I wanted you to know that based on sharing this post with some of my colleagues here at MPI, we’ll be evaluating how criteria for HB in the future can be more accessible to not-for-profits. It’s only through productive, open dialogue that we can continue to grow as an industry.

    • Theresa: I totally understand the reason behind the HB application process. Just wanted to express my thoughts on changes that might be made to the program and event themselves going forward. As always, I’m happy to be a part of the growing process!

  2. Hi Vanessa, I completely understand your predicament. I found myself turned down by the hosted buyers program for a second time myself. Even with the conference being in my home country, this will cost me a small fortune with registration, flights and hotel rooms. I’m not a not-for-profit planner like yourself, but numerous meeting planners are independent planners who run their own businesses. In other words, conference expenses come right out of our pockets, so picking what events to attend is under the same scrutiny (moreso of our family members and accountants). I feel your pain, but I too will also attend WEC. There are conferences that I have chosen not to attend because of cost, but this event is just too close to home to miss. I’ll see you there!

    • Leanne: I believe with positive (fair and balanced) feedback from planners of all levels, MPI will be encouraged to make changes to their events going forward. I have had very positive discussions with International and they understand the difficulty the Hosted Buyer Program has presented as well as the fixed pricing structure currently in place for events like WEC. I was remiss not to include Independent Planners in my review – there are many who just like their non-profit counterparts, cannot afford the price. But I couldn’t agree more that it is so important to attend an event like WEC – so many opportunities present themselves at an event like this. I hope to meet up with you in Vancouver!

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