MPI Chicago Industry Xchange Recap and Highlights

 travel-industry-mpi-ix2014Wow-what a crowd! Over 500 people, from 11 organizations, gathered on July 19 at Navy Pier to network, learn, and look into the future of the meetings, events and travel industry at Chicago Industry Xchange.

It was exciting to see the room packed, especially because, as a member of MPI-CAC’s MarComm committee, I helped out with social media and PR.

In this recap, you can take a look at the audience profile, go over US Travel Association industry updates covered in a previous post, and read highlights from the industry expert panel discussion. This post also appears on the MPI-CAC blog.

Chicago Industry Xchange Audience Profile

In looking at the majority, the audience was made up of mostly suppliers with 10+ years of experience who work for other organizations or corporations that are focused on branding and marketing and clarifying strategic direction. Of note, 49% of all attendees are dealing with increased expectations; doing more with less. Does that sound like you?


I am a

43% Supplier

29% Planner

15% Neither

14% Both


I work for

22% Other

21% Corporation

16% Third-party intermediary

14% Hotel

8% Association

5% Association Management Only

5% Consultant

5% DMO

5% Independent Meeting Planner


My organization is focused on the following trends

33% Branding and marketing

19% Clarity on our strategic direction

15% Membership growth and retention

13% Driving attendance

12% International growth & attendees

5% Declining exhibit/sponsor revenues

5% Social media

0% Enhancing value and increasing engagement

0% Advocacy efforts in our field

 How do these results compare to your experience?

In terms of work experience, 45% had more than 10 years of experience, 21% had 5-10, 17% had 3-5 and 17% had under three. These numbers come from screen caps; actual results may be a few percentage points higher or lower.

When looking at the audience poll, this stat that jumped out for me: 33% of all attendees say their organization is focused on branding and marketing. That’s what we do!


Chicago Industry Xchange was a collaborative event, co-sponsored by local chapters of 11 meeting, event, travel and hospitality industry organizations including



Chicago Industry Xchange 2014 USTA Takeaways

U.S. Travel Association [USTA] is a 73-year-old trade association that runs like a business with an entrepreneurial spirit. USTA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 14.9 million jobs. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.

Nan Marchand Beavois, Senior Director, National Council Relations at U.S. Travel Association [USTA], covered four key initiatives: Brand USA, Infrastructure Issues, Travel Effect campaign and Meetings Mean Business resources.

Reauthorizing Brand USA, a campaign for International audiences with resources for all.

For every $1 invested, Brand USA returns $47 to the US economy – at no cost to taxpayers. Whether you’re planning an event, dreaming about vacation, or looking for ways to promote the U.S. to international visitors, you’ll find lots of resources and ideas to guide you at and

Building champions in Congress who support a plan to revitalize America’s infrastructure.

To make legislators aware of transportation and infrastructure issues, USTA developed an app in partnership with Building America’s Future called “I’m Stuck.” If you’re stuck anywhere, you can click on where you’re stuck and send a message to your elected official to communicate your frustrations. For more information, visit
Proving the benefits of travel to US citizens with #TravelEffect to encourage taking more vacation days.

Demonstrating the value of face-to-face meetings with Meetings Mean Business.

The #MMBusiness toolkit includes business travel stats and social media updates you can use in your proposals and promotions like this one: Business travel fuels growth. For every dollar U.S. companies invest in business travel they realize $9.50 in new revenue.

How do use USTA’s tools in your meeting and event planning and promotions?


Chicago Industry Xchange Panel Highlights

After Nan’s keynote, Katie Callahan-Giobbi, EVP – Minding Your Business, Inc. led a panel discussion with these industry experts:

  • Julie Larson, McDonald’s Corporation
  • Bill Grusich, ALHI
  • Patricia Perez, Director of the Dominican Republic Tourism Board
  • Alec Rosofsky, American College of Healthcare Executives
  • Sue Tinnish, Kendall College
  • Deborah Sexton, PCMA
  • Chris Perry, Hiltons of Chicago
  • Paul Van Deventer, MPI Global

Panelists Speak Out on Innovation, Content, Incentives, and Starting Out

“Our most pressing issues are engagement and innovation in meetings. We talk about doing more with less. There has to be newness to every event. Our attendees want to see innovation and risk-taking. They want to feel like those days out of the office were well spent.” Deborah Sexton, PCMA

“As someone who deals with a lot of associations, the whole model has changed in terms of membership, events, and accreditation. There’s a lot of non-member attendance across the board. The attendance driver used to be location; the city was the draw. Now, it’s content.” Bill Grusich, ALHI

“As we are in a workforce with four different generations, the real value comes in the curation of content. What kind of model do you put forth that creates value for members and sustains the association for the future?” Paul Van Deventer, MPI Global

“It’s important to define content generally. Define the value of the meeting for attendees: is it networking, experiences or content? While content is important to some, there are other values for other people.” Alec Rosofsky, American College of Healthcare Executives

“We really need to think about how the younger generation relates to associations. The challenge for associations is to get the word of mouth going among younger members. The Internet has affected marketing across the board. To get reviews, you don’t read Zagat, you read TripAdvisor.” Sue Tinnish, Kendall College

“McDonald’s does innovative things at the worldwide conference that happens every other year in the even years for 15,000 individuals in Orlando. Innovation is focused in on two key areas: engagement and sustainability.” Julie Larson, McDonald’s Corporation

“In terms of incentive travel ROI trends, sponsors are looking more at the results. According to SITE, optimism is at a four year high. A good incentive program can help with retention, profitability and sales – all benefits companies are looking for.” Patricia Perez, Director of the Dominican Republic Tourism Board

“Don’t let ego get in the way. Slow down and learn as much as you can. When you love what you do, the joy is phenomenal. Take advantage of opportunities and put your name on your work right away. If you prove yourself, you will stand out.” Advice for newcomers from Chris Perry, Hiltons of Chicago

What meeting and event trends are you watching right now?


Photo caption: Katie Callahan-Giobbi leads the panel discussion. Image by Barbara Rozgonyi.










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