ROI + MPU= ???

ROI has always been a difficult concept for the meetings industry to get its arms around. And while a specific tool, the Phillips ROI Methodology, was introduced by Meeting Professionals International at the association's World Education Congress last summer in Denver, many planners are still struggling to understand how this can apply to their meetings.

"This process requires considerable time and effort," says Monica Myhill, MPI's former professional development director, now with Meeting Returns, a Littleton, CO-based consultancy affiliated with Phillips' ROI Institute, in Birmingham, AL. "It can seem very daunting," adds Jan Engebretson, conference manager for Tastefully Simple, a direct-sales gourmet food company in Alexandria, MN, who recently learned the Phillips method, "You need to do a lot of research and create a plan."

Still, it's all worthwhile, says Marsha Flanagan, MPI's vice president of professional development. "Any ROI measurement system takes time to learn. But for planning to be considered a strategic part of an organization, measuring ROI is a core competency that planners will need to acquire," Flanagan says.

And planners may soon be able to sort out their confusion: Phillips is appearing twice at industry events this month. First, he is presenting a week-long training course in conjunction with MPI's World Education Congress July 10-12 in Miami. He will then speak at MeetingWorld, the conference and trade show presented by Meeting-News and Successful Meetings, on July 26-27 in New York City (www.meetingworld2005.com).