As told to Christine Otsuka
Some say those who plan events and meetings are in the travel and hospitality industry. What’s your opinion?
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
This is a tricky one! For years, meeting and event professionals have been grouped under the hospitality industry umbrella because the world was uncertain of how to define it as a profession. But this is changing. Universities and colleges offer hospitality programs that cover a variety of fields, from meetings and events, to travel and tourism, to hotel management.
However, with more and more organizations acknowledging the value that meeting planners bring, the profession is receiving more recognition. In addition, events and meetings are being identified as significant income generators for both organizations and the economy.
As a result, there are now full-time programs at educational institutions dedicated to event and meeting management. Furthermore, organizations are actively seeking event and meeting professionals to help them meet their goals and objectives.
While the meeting industry continues to branch out on its own, one thing that won’t change are the customers that we share with the hospitality industry. Our industries will always be working in collaboration with one another to provide exceptional customer-focused experiences.
Deborah Schroeder, CMP
Senior Meeting Planner, Corporate Events
Although travel and hospitality are aspects of what we do, I believe today’s event planner is an integral member of the marketing team, whether they work for a corporation or an agency.
Providing attendees with a space to sleep, good food and a party does not reflect the strategic importance that a properly planned event has. Events should be based on a company’s objectives and be used to communicate key messages to its stakeholders.
Working closely with the rest of the marketing team (as well as other departments that have a stake in the event such as sales, human resources and communications) is vital.
From the smallest meeting to conferences, trade shows and incentive trips, an event that does not measurably further the company’s objectives is not delivering ROI and risks being a victim of the next expense cut.
Meridican Incentive Consultants
I believe that those who plan events and meetings are absolutely part of the travel and hospitality industry!
The overall objective for everyone working in this industry is to take excellent care of our guests. Ultimately, every decision regarding a meeting or event is made with the participant experience in mind.
We constantly strive to ensure that each individual departs from our programs feeling that a great amount of thought and attention to detail went into the planning process and that they have been a part of something unique and special. Whether we are assisting a participant with lost luggage, managing special dietary requirements, introducing them to an exciting new entertainment act, or simply greeting them with a smile at a registration desk, every moment of interaction with a guest will [affect] their enjoyment of our event.
Our objective to provide an outstanding experience, locally or abroad, is precisely what includes us in the travel/hospitality industry.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Yes, no, maybe so. The answer is clear as mud. Meeting planning involves travel and hospitality components and you’d be hard-pressed to find a tourism board/airline/hotel without a meetings and conventions arm. So why is it not a prefect fit? Perhaps it’s related to meeting planners’ collective desire to abandon the party-planner descriptor. “Travel” connotes leisure, vacations and fun, which aren’t exactly on your employer or client’s list of business objectives. Or perhaps it’s too simplistic. Whatever the case may be, we’re far from reaching consensus. And if we can’t agree, then prepare to be mislabelled.