The week before this issue was due to head to the printer, I took an hour out of a production day to listen to a Northstar Meeting Group webinar, sponsored by Cvent, which looked at “How the C-Suite Views Meetings.” It focused on new research conducted by D.K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd. for Northstar, which covered a lot of the usual ground: measuring the effectiveness of meetings, adding sizzle to events, being a good steward of company resources, and the importance of demonstrating value. All of it was interesting but there were a couple of points where I really sat up and took notice.
Early in the webinar, Tim Brown, CEO of Meeting Sites Resource, said that it’s very seldom that executives arrive at the C-suite having travelled a career path through meeting management. I took that to mean that in businesses that aren’t strictly aligned to the industry, planners rarely become presidents. While meetings frequently fall under the auspices of the company’s marketing department or, more often now, the finance department, there doesn’t seem to be a natural career progression for planners in most corporations.
There are exceptions. Angie Pfeiffer, CMM is vice-president of event marketing and corporate travel for Investors Group Financial Services Inc. A year ago, she shared the steps on her journey to the C-suite table in this magazine (February.March 2013). But, how many more Angies are out there? If you’re a planner who has climbed the corporate ladder or know a planner like Angie, let me know. I can’t help but think if we could gather these individuals together, we’d be able to have a round-table that would add significantly to discussions on the value of meetings and events, and professionalism in the industry.
Another point in the webinar that caught my attention centered on the importance of getting meaningful data to prove the strategic importance of meetings. I have three questions on the subject and would welcome any insights or observations anyone might have. 1. How many corporate planners have good access to post-event data from internal stakeholders? 2. Is it even possible for third-party planners to get that type of information from clients? 3. If third-party planners don’t have access to data from the events they’ve organized, how can they make their value case in a data-obsessed world?
What do you think? Can planners become presidents? Is data the key to measuring value? By sharing your opinions and experiences, we can start the kind of conversations that will elevate the industry.
Lori Smith is editor of Meetings + Incentive Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.