Meetings Pro Tip: Hiring Event Planners? Be Prepared to Up the Salary

With events returning to full steam, the competition for talented planners is fierce. To build up your team, you'll likely need a willingness to pay more, mixed with some creative hiring strategies.

Over the past year, events have been transitioning quickly from virtual-only to hybrid to in-person. After a period of shifts in hiring for event professionals, associations are now ready to staff back up.

Just one problem: So is everyone else, and as a result, the market for talented meeting planners is tight. According to a recent study, talent in the event space won’t come cheap—and associations may require some creative thinking to get a new team member in place.

What’s the Problem?

There are lots of job openings for event professionals right now, according to the firm Global DMC Partners, which recently released a benchmarking report [PDF] on the state of the events sector. Sixty-five percent of respondents surveyed said their organizations were currently hiring or did so recently, suggesting that demand for these professionals may outstrip supply.

Organizations that do hire new event planners should expect to pay more, especially in North America: In the study, only 4 percent of respondents in the U.S. and Canada said they earned less than $50,000, compared with 42 percent elsewhere, and nearly half reported salaries of more than $75,000.

Combine that with an average pay increase of around 10 percent for job switchers across the board as reported in other recent research, and it’s clear that staffing up may be costly. According to the Global DMC Partners study, around 30 percent of respondents in North America said they need to increase their compensation packages.

Complicating the picture further are other macro trends. In particular, 70 percent of respondents said they are dealing with higher costs for destinations and air travel, meaning that budgets need to swell for both talent and execution.

What’s the Solution?

Beyond increasing salary, employers have other ways to attract event-planning talent. Given that some organizations are waiting more than three months to fill a role, and 75 percent of respondents to the survey said they are looking for specialized skills, more flexibility might be necessary.

One option is to consider hiring fully remote employees (26 percent of organizations do this, and an additional 10 percent are open to it). Another is to hire from outside your industry (40 percent of organizations have been successful doing so).

Simply put, if you want the show to go on, you might need to shift your hiring approach.

(DavidLeshem/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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