Meet the Planners
Although technology has long threatened to do away with face-to-face communication, the availability of video and phone conferencing has yet to curb the need for professionals to gather with peers to exchange ideas, introduce new products or share business best practices. Meeting and event planners are the key to making those face-to-face meetings happen, whether in the shape of large industry trade shows, small-scale seminars or even coordinating that technical wonder, the webinar. In fact, according to Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine, a trade publication targeting the decision makers involved in planning meetings, incentives and conventions, this is a growing market. In 2004, 82 percent of companies included event marketing as part of their overall marketing mix, which is an increase of 6 percent from 2003.
Profiling the Professionals
Meeting and event planners can be outsourced professionals hired to coordinate your association's annual meeting a year in advance, or in-house staff whose task it is to plan everything from the corporation's signature conference to presentations to staff training sessions. And they may not all hold the title of "meeting planner," says Corporate Meetings & Incentives' group publisher Melissa Fromento. "For example, at Pfizer, there may be multiple people involved in planning meetings, from the VP of sales, to the HR director, to a training director," she says. List brokerage and management company Edith Roman Associates manages the lists for a number of VNU Business Media events industry publications such as Successful Meetings. "More of the subscribers to these publications are actually in-house people who are taking care of that [event planning] for a particular company," points out John LoGiudice, senior list manager at Edith Roman. "Or for a smaller company, it could be the owner who also takes care of that."
LoGiudice places the spending power of event planners in the B-to-B world at more than $500 billion. This money is applied to a host of needs. Michelle Glicksman, editor-in-chief of Event Solutions magazine, a trade publication catering to the special events industry, points out that caterers, venues, audio visual equipment, lighting, linens, chairs, entertainment, tents, take-aways and transportation are just some of the products and services that meeting and event planning professionals source. Hotel accommodations and travel expenses also are a top priority. Other requirements may include arranging and compensating guest speakers, and designing and printing collateral information, says LoGiudice.