Meetings

New Skills Required for Today’s Meeting Planners

By / Dec 20, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Numerous trends, including technology, have affected the meetings industry and the know-how meeting planners must have. What new skills do today’s planners need to guarantee success in the future?

A few days back I was pointed to an article on Forbes.com called “How to Be Better at Your Job in 2014.” Included in the list of 14 tips were things like, “Work harder and smarter,” “See the big picture,” and “Invest in continuous learning to stay on top of your game.”

Technology, social media, and too many other things to list are changing the way meeting planners have to do their jobs.

The latter one got me thinking. As many of you know, Associations Now has undergone quite the transformation in the last 14 months. We overhauled our print publication and dove into the digital publishing world by launching AssociationsNow.com, five blogs, our Associations Now Daily News email, and an iPad app. In November, our newest addition to the digital family launched: Associations Now Plus, a personalized e-newsletter available only to ASAE members.

These changes also meant a lot of changes for me and the rest of the AN team, especially when it came to acquiring or improving skills to help make our digital platforms a success. For me, the thing I was most scared of but also excited about was blogging. It was something I hadn’t done much of before, and now that I have to do it weekly, it’s given me a new skill (albeit one that’s a constant work in progress).

That’s just one example, as the list of skills I learned—and still need to learn—goes on and on, and I’m sure everyone else on the team would have more to add. But what I  truly believe is that the Associations Now brand would not be as strong as it is today had everyone not been willing to adapt to change and acquire the skills needed to succeed in this new publishing environment.

And the same goes for those of you working in the association meetings industry. Technology, social media, and too many other things to list are changing the way you have to do your jobs. Just as editors need to learn how to write for the online audience, you need to learn how to teach and engage an online audience of attendees. With that in mind, I offer up three skills association meeting planners may want to acquire or improve:

1. Learn the power of data mining. In last week’s post, I looked at a new whitepaper from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events about trends affecting the events industry. One of them was the collection of big data—bits of information gathered relevant to customers, the community, and the event that are then mined to uncover trends and information that were not visible previously. Developing this skill set will allow planners to customize attendee experiences and better market to them, all in hopes of raising revenue and building attendee loyalty. The associations that do this well will have a clear advantage over their competitors.

2. Master content generation and curation. Events produce a lot of content. There are handouts, session recordings, Tweets, photos, and conference newspaper articles, to name a few. It’s important that meeting planners not only understand what makes for the best content, but also see where your association can use it again down the road. Having that keen eye for good content, where else it would work, and what other content is out there that can be reused will spotlight your association as a knowledge leader.

3. Understand the impact of larger societal trends. When planning meetings and events is your everyday job, it’s easy to get caught up in that world. But it’s important that you look beyond your industry and examine what’s happening on a broader scale. For example, if research indicates that younger generations are less likely to engage face to face or join membership organizations, what will that mean to your work? Having your pulse on those trends will allow your association to be proactive instead of reactive when it makes current and future decisions. You can use this knowledge to create more innovative meetings and events for your attendees.

Again, these are just three  of my thoughts to get started. There also have been a few others who have offered up their own suggestions. Now it’s your turn: What other skills do you think meeting planners need to succeed in the ever-changing meetings and events landscape? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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