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ISSUE 67 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 23EMEC ReviewInnovating in BudapestMEEtIng ProfESSIonalS IntErnatIonal gathErEd ItS EUroPEan ClanS UndEr thE bannEr of InnovatIon In bUdaPESt, PaUl ColSton rEPortShe meetings industry is operating at levels much stronger than suggested in the general economy, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) President and CEO Bruce Macmillan told a press briefing at the association's flagship annual European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC). The conference, held this year in Budapest, 29 January- 1 February attracted 343 delegates to the Novotel Congress Hotel. EMEC provided a good dose of blue sky thinking, allied to practical examples of how to succeed in today's meetings industry.Innovation and creative risk taking were key subjects on the EMEC 2012 agenda and MPI can't be accused of playing safe with the agenda. The programme was refreshingly packed with speakers not culled from meetings industry central casting. The 're-imagining' approach, with the accent on innovation, represented an attempt, according to Macmillan, to "walk the talk this year, to get outside the comfort zone".The reprise of the Flash Point assembly, a 15-minute blitz taster session offering delegates a preview of content from five of the longer sessions, is something that many conference organisers would do well to copy. MPI went Dutch and three of the speakers were from Holland. Pacelle van Goethem spoke on the art of persuasion in her pitch 'Selling ice cream to Eskomos; Rene Boender shared the wisdom of the new KISS (Keep It Simple, Smart); and CapGemini's Hans van Grieken warned about wasting time inventing the wheel. The other two Flashpointers were Denmark's former male model Christian Bitz who urged us 'to eat right to make your meeting brain bright' and Steven Loepfe who came from Switzerland to tell us to create sweet zone days and block the mundane, at least occasionally.MPI Chief Development Officer Didier Scaillet acknowledged only "a handful" of North American delegates had made the trip to Budapest. It was "a tough sell", he said, to bring US meeting professionals out of their offices for four or five days".Despite the dip in attendance, Macmillan described as a "bold move" the Board decision to bring EMEC to Hungary for 2012. "It paid off big time," he said, in terms of bringing central European delegates closer into the MPI fold. MPI now claims 2,500 members in its European chapters. Coffee RepublicCoffee Republic co-founder Sahar Hashemi delivered as keynote the story of how she introduced US-style coffee consumerism to the British market.Maria Thyien, key organiser of the education sessions, said she had been guided in putting together the 2012 programme "by what other industries were doing that could be applied to the international meetings industry". MPI Manager of Strategic Communications Theresa Davis underlined that the idea of "turning innovation into practice" had been a strong consideration for MPI.The evening welcome reception at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts offered MPI delegates the experience of 'Molecular Mixology' - the so-called "practice of manipulating states of matter to create new flavours, textures and visuals that enhance the drink and make the experience stimulating". MPI can clearly still walk the esoteric talk as well as the practical. The MPI Foundation, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with a range of global impact studies for the industry. And, with Canadian studies completed last year and Mexico due to report this year, MacMillan said new figures gathered were indicating a global meetings industry now worth US$1 trillion in terms of output. Content from EMEC 2012 is available on the redesigned site: www.mpiweb.org Tabove: Work, rest and a little learning play in budapest for MPI's EMEC delegatesIt's time to walk the talk and get outside the comfort zoneMPI PresIdent and ceo bruce MacMIllan

24 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / ISSUE 67EMEC Reviewand French providing the largest national delegations.The best way for delegates to explore quickly is via the Hop On Hop Off Bus which takes you to Castle Hill with its Royal Palace and the Matthias Church in Buda, a district that, together with the Danube Bridges and the embankment, is a World Heritage site.Budapest is packed with architectural gems, including the art nouveau Gresham Palace on Roosevelt Square at the Pest end of the Chain Bridge. Andrássy Street connects the inner city with Heroes' Square and City Park. A walk along this broad avenue will take you past the State Opera House (available for events). The City Park and Zoo should be checked out for event potential. Let off steam, literally, in Széchenyi Baths. where you can have a face-to-face in the warm outdoor pools. There are 100 hot springs and numerous spa hotels in Budapest, a city built on thermal waters. Budapest testedIn 2011, Budapest, ranked in the top 50 of the Innovation Cities Global Index. The ranking is compiled by 2thinknow agency and rates "ability to generate product, process service and other innovation types across an urban economy". The Hungarian capital added to its pedigree here, by hosting the MPI EMEC conference with the strapline: 'Innovation re-imagined'.When Hungary held the presidency of the EU for the first six months of 2011, it attracted 250 major events, including 10 ministerial conferences. The period brought in 40,000 visitors for these events.Last autumn, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center hosted 5,000 delegates for the European Neurological Societies' congress and the city is ranked 18th in the latest ICCA City Rankings. Budapest hosted 71 per cent of the country's 537 international conferences in 2010. Three-quarters of these were international, with Germans, British Hotel zone Budapest has 16 fi ve-star and 61 four-star hotels. The Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest is Hungary's fi rst member of Leading Hotels of the World. It has 326 rooms, numerous meeting rooms and a ballroom able to cater for 320 for banquets. It is also the fi rst hotel to offer a public, electric vehicle charging station. Famous guests at the Kempinski have included Michael Jackson and Robert De Niro. The US actor attended the opening of the hotel's Nobu Restaurant. Celebrity spotters at The InterContinental Hotel and Resort will have noticed signatures in the Presidential Suite's visitors' book from Madonna, Elton John and President Hertzog of Germany. Right on the Danube, the hotel is in the heart of the city and offers spectacular views to the Castle Hill. There is an entire fl oor dedicated to meetings and events and the seven meetings rooms have panoramic views. The largest conference room can seat 850 delegates. Marriott Budapest is also central, with panoramic views of the Danube, Margaret Island and Pest. It has 17 meeting rooms and a conference centre seating 650 delegates. Hilton Budapest West End offers, as well as the dramatic views across the Danube, a dedicated personal assistant for all meeting needs. Its largest meetings space hosts 350 guests and there are 11 breakout rooms. Sofi tel Budapest Chain Bridge also overlooks the Danube and Castle Hill. It has undergone a refurbishment and has meeting room space for 340 delegates. Novotel and the Budapest Congress and World Trade Center is the largest conference facility in Hungary and hosted MPI for its EMEC conference. This four-star hotel can seat 2,000 people and it has an additional 19 meeting rooms.sandwich packs for the homelessPREPARED BY EMEC DELEGATES IN BUDAPEST400