The Many Roles of Meeting Planners

Since today’s attendees expect a more immersive and memorable event experience, the role of a meeting planner has evolved. A look at three new roles that planners must master.

Earlier this month, IACC released its annual “Meeting Room of the Future” report. While there was a ton of great information in there about everything from cybersecurity becoming more of concern to venues making sustainability practices a priority, what struck me is how the role of a meeting planner continues to evolve.

“The continued movement toward creating stronger event experiences means those arranging them will take on a multitude of roles—from event and motivational ambassadors to technology implementors and experts to food critics,” the report said. “As attendees strive for a different environment from their everyday life, planners are tasked with creating memories and transformative experiences that develop them both personally and professionally.”

For example, of the 250 meeting planners surveyed for the report, 85 percent said they are now responsible for creating memorable meeting experiences. That’s up 10 percent since 2016.

How else are the responsibilities of an association meeting planner changing? Here are three new roles that are being added to job descriptions:

Technology evangelists. As the quote above alludes to, meeting planners need to make sure their events live up to attendee expectations. A large part of that is knowing what technology exists that will help make the experience better for attendees—and, more important, being able to make the case to the right people that integrating technology into their association’s events is necessary. While this doesn’t mean planners have to be tech whizzes, they do need to understand the fundamentals of event technology. An ability to talk about it comfortably using the correct terminology is a good place to start.

Event strategists. Many years ago, a meeting planner was the person who made sure an event was executed successfully. But, as attendees have come to expect a much more robust experience, planners have evolved into event designers and strategists.

“It’s hard to find a good meeting professional today, be it supplier or planner, who doesn’t wear that strategic hat,” wrote Blair Potter in a 2018 Meeting Professionals International blog post. “In my opinion, that strategic hat seeks to ask and answer a basic question: ‘What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?’ The CEO? The meeting participant? The host venue? When you can step back and seek to answers to that question, then you can begin designing an experience that will catch your key stakeholders’ attention and ideally draw them in for more.”

Data diggers. Associations have more meetings data at their disposal than ever, which is both a good and bad thing. This means today’s planners need to have a clear picture of what they want to do with it. That requires making decisions early about what elements of the meeting will be measured and how that information will be used to improve the next one.

“You want to be able to make sure that you have the right technologies in place, so that the by-product—that data that’s being created—allows you to do something informative afterwards,” said Joe Colangelo, CEO of Bear Analytics, in an October 2018 Associations Now article.

How do you expect your role as a meeting planner to evolve over the next few years? Tell us about it in the comments.

(AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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