What’s In A Name?

In a recent study by Meetings & Conventions, research that surveyed 240 industry types determined that many meeting professionals responded that they felt their current title did not reflect the scope of the work that they do.

The title meeting planner is probably the most well known by non-industry professionals, but for the seasoned professionals surveyed, this title truly devalues the work they do. The other titles included strategist, but this isn’t always an apt description of the roles some play either.

“Sorry, but everyone who plans meetings isn’t a strategist, and it dilutes the value of the title for those who are strategic vs. those managing just the tactical aspects,” said one respondent.

The department of labor also struggles to develop the appropriate title for this profession, though they have made strides in moving us from general hospitality and tourism. In 2016, a new designation was established to identify us as “meeting, convention and event planners,” creating a separate and distinct business category that elevates our contributions.

PCMA is working on an initiative to elevate the perception of the profession to promote it more in alignment with the business aspect of the role vs. the long standing party planner mindset. Another survey found that generally people think the following about the role of a meeting planner:
  • 69% think the title is related to party planning or travel agent.
  • 42% have a general idea of the role.
  • 33% need an explanation of what a planner does.
  • 23% assume it is a mid-level position.
  • 17% assume it is an entry-level position.
  • 3% assume it is a high-level position.
  • 2% have a real understanding of the role.

In following a career path titles can be very important, especially in terms of growth potential and salary. However, it seems in the past two years the titles have been developed based on trends within general business industry buzzwords.

PCMA has already begun to transition from using meeting planner to event strategist. “We think it encompasses the work so many of our members are doing.” - Mary Pat Heftman, current board chair PCMA.

The title seems to support the responses from the survey question, “Do you believe the meeting industry should try to better position the planning profession as highly strategic?”
  • Yes 84%
  • No 2%
  • Not Sure 14%

As the title debate continues, your voice and experience will help to shape the role for future industry professionals.

-Sherry Hayes-Peirce
CEO Communication Consultants Inc.

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