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March 2012 . . 27 EMEC REVIEWinternational meetings industry". MPI Manager of Strategic Communications Theresa Davis underlined that the idea of "turning innovation into practice" had been a strong consideration of the MPI Board.he 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 briefi ng at the association's fl agship annual European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC). The conference was held this year in Budapest, 29 January- 1 February and attracted 343 delegates to the Novotel Congress Hotel venue. "The corporate sector is driving results, particularly in the US where there has been an increase in employment, something not seen for 18 months," said Macmillan. Innovation and creative risk taking were key elements of EMEC 2012 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, said Macmillan, to "walk the talk this year to get outside the comfort zone".The reprise of the Flash Point idea assembly, a blitz taster session which offered delegates a preview of content from fi ve of the longer sessions, is something that many conference organisers would do well to copy. Many of the Flash Point speakers from EMEC 2011 had impressed so much, they had gone on to speak at the annual MPI conference Stateside (WEC).MPI Chief Development Offi cer Didier Scaillet acknowledged only "a handful" of Innovating in BudapestIt's time [for MPI EMEC] to walk the talk and get outside the comfort zoneNorth American delegates had made the trip to Budapest, and said it was "a tough sell" to bring US meeting professionals out of their offi ces for four or fi ve 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. MPI presented in Budapest the redesign of its certifi cation practice, the Global CMP (Certifi ed Meetings Professional) qualifi cation, which, Macmillan said, was now "more globally focused". "We are working with the Convention Industry Council to take our programmes into Asia, in particular Taiwan and Beijing this summer," Macmillan said, adding that in the globalisation of the meetings industry, "people were hungry for CMP certifi cation".Coffee RepublicChristian Bitz, former model and nutritionist, was one of the most popular speakers and Coffee Republic co-founder, entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi delivered an usual keynote on the story of how she introduced US-style coffee consumerism to the British market in innovative style.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 Near right: Nutrionist and ex-model Christian Bitz has his own TV show in Denmark and served up some tasty ideas in Budapest for EMEC. Top right: Hands on workshop with Pacelle van Goethem. Right: delegates doing their bit to feed the homeless in BudapestMeeting Professionals International (MPI) gathered its European clans under the banner of innovation in Budapest, Paul Colston reportsT

28 . . March 2012March EMEC REVIEWlargest national delegations.The best way for delegates to explore quickly is via the Hop On Hop Off Bus which take 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. The warm outdoor pools are popular in winter despite the air temperature being well below zero. There are numerous spa hotels in Budapest which is built on thermal waters. HOTEL ZONEBudapest 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, who 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. The seven meetings rooms have panoramic views and 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 recently hosted MPI for its EMEC conference. This four-star hotel can seat 2,000 people and has an additional 19 meeting rooms.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 fl avours, 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 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 fi gures gathered were indicating a meetings industry now worth US$1 trillion in terms of output. Content from EMEC 2012 is available on the redesigned site: Budapest testedIn 2011, Budapest ranked in the top 50 of the Innovation Cities Global Index, a ranking compiled by 2thinknow agency and based on "ability to generate product, process service and other innovation types across an urban economy". The Hungarian capital therefore had thepedigree for hosting a conference titled Innovation re-imagined'.When Hungary held the presidency of the EU for the fi rst six months of 2011, 250 major events were attracted, including 10 ministerial conferences. The period attracted brought in 40,000 visitors for these events.Last autumn, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center hosted 5,000 delegates for the 15th Congress of the European Deration of Neurological Societies and the city is ranked 18th in the latest ICCA City Rankings. Budapest hosted 71 per cent of the 537 international conferences in 2010. Three-quarters of these were international with Germans, British and French the