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Celebrating the Success of MPI Tampa Bay Area Chapter Meetings Academy 2024

By: Kindra Bess, CMP - Director of Conferences & Events

I am immensely proud to be a part of the MPI Tampa Bay Area Chapter and on the board of directors as Director, Chapter Educational Programs plus contributing to the planning of this exceptional event. The Meetings Academy at the Tampa Convention Center was a resounding success, a treasure trove of compelling topics, expert speakers, and activities designed to foster growth, innovation, and community engagement. Attendees walked away with invaluable knowledge and meaningful connections, making it a must-attend event for anyone in the meetings and events industry.

Reflecting on the Highlights of Meetings Academy 2024

Leadership Today: Are You Playing Chess or Checkers?

The opening session, led by Michael Dominguez, delved into the strategic differences between leadership styles. Dominguez emphasized the importance of forward-thinking and multi-directional strategies, akin to playing chess, versus reactive and short-term decision-making, like in checkers. Attendees gained a renewed perspective on effective leadership and team dynamics.

State of the Travel Industry

The next session provided an in-depth overview of current trends and challenges in the travel sector. Esteemed local industry leaders, including Santiago Corrada, President & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, Brian Lowack, President & CEO of Visit St. Pete Clearwater, Juan Lopez, Sales & Marketing Manager with the Tampa Convention Center, and Jon Vaden from Tampa International Airport, discussed the impact of global events, technological advancements, and changing consumer behaviors. Participants left with valuable insights to better navigate the complexities of the travel landscape.

Navigating the Future of Events

A planner panel led this forward-looking session, exploring the evolving landscape of event planning and management. Speakers highlighted how events are evolving and resurging, providing attendees with fresh perspectives on future trends and innovations in the industry.

Suppliers' Scope on the Future

Suppliers from various sectors shared their perspectives on the future of meetings and events in this session. This unique viewpoint showcased how suppliers are innovating and adapting to meet the needs of event planners.

Harness AI to Supercharge Efficiency

An AI expert discussed the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in streamlining processes, improving decision-making, and enhancing attendee experiences. From chatbots to data analytics, the session highlighted vast applications of AI in the events industry, inspiring attendees to integrate these technologies into their own practices.


Community Engagement Activity for Tampa General Hospital

A standout feature of this year's event was the community engagement activity benefiting Tampa General Hospital. Attendees participated in a hands-on project supporting the hospital's mission, fostering teamwork and camaraderie while giving back to the local community.


Networking at Jackson's Bistro

The Meetings Academy concluded with a vibrant networking event at Jackson's Bistro. Overlooking the beautiful Tampa Bay, this gathering provided the perfect setting for attendees to connect, share insights, and forge new professional relationships. The relaxed atmosphere and delicious cuisine made for a delightful end to a day filled with learning and growth.



The MPI Tampa Bay Area Chapter Meetings Academy 2024 was an enriching experience that provided attendees with valuable knowledge, meaningful connections, and opportunities for professional growth. Whether you're looking to enhance your leadership skills, stay informed about industry trends, or simply connect with peers, the Meetings Academy is an essential event for anyone in the meetings and events industry. I look forward to continuing being a part of this inspiring community and contributing to future events.

About the Author

Kindra Bess, CMP

Director of Conferences and Events

Arden Solutions


Kindra has 20+ years’ experience in venue sourcing, contracting, and full-service planning and executing events from board retreats to conferences of 1,600 attendees, full pipe & drape exhibit halls, and offsite options. RFPs, site visits, plus an incredible negotiation aptitude, she presents what clients need to consider: solid, understandable options for their informed decisions-making. She has a BA in Hospitality from University of Clemson.

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