As the event industry evolves, shouldn’t the titles that are associated with them do so, as well? That’s the question that Sherrif Karamat, CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) posed earlier this year. For years event planners in the B2B space have been strapped with such titles as “Meeting Planner” and “Event Planner.” But these deceptively simple titles belie the complexity that now goes into planning an event. Today making an event happen requires much more than just planning.
In the beginning there were events, and it was good.
As long as there have been people there have been events. Leaf through the Old Testament, Herodotus’ Histories, or The Epic of Gilgamesh and you will find descriptions of lavish banquets being held, often with a fair bit of wine, handshaking, and deal-making. Sound familiar? The truth is: over the past thousand years, events haven’t changed much. Except when they have.
Banquet Plaque, Khafajah, Sin Temple IX, c. 2600 B.C.
Planning [Plan-ing] - Noun
- the act or process of making a plan or plans.
Looking back at the history of event organizers, that much at least has always been true. Even in the days of people named Job, if someone wanted to have an event, it fell on someone to plan it. What wine do I select? Will there be roasted goat? What about figs and honey? Maybe a singer or two? Should the event be in a field, an amphitheater, or (if we can swing it!) the palace?
Even then, someone needed to plan the logistics of the event. However, one thing that those people most definitely did not need to do is create and disseminate email marketing campaigns in order to attract a solid turn-out. Event planners didn’t need to find and research the best event management software to track registrations, facilitate networking between attendees, and draw meaningful conclusions from a robust system of event metrics.
Symposium Scene, Nicias Painter, c. 420 B.C.
Then event planning got complicated.
Today, event planning is a complex enterprise. So complex, that most event planners work in teams of logistics specialist, marketing specialists, and even data analytics specialists. What isn’t done by the event team is outsourced to specialists, either elsewhere in the company or to event planning agencies. That’s right: We now have a whole industry dedicated to planning events. If you’re reading this article, this is probably of little surprise to you, but just think about how much of a leap this is since the days of holding banquets in Xerxes’ court.
The fact of the matter is that over the years, an increasing amount of work has gone into making an event happen. To muse:
- Maximizing attendance
- Maximizing the satisfaction of attendees
- Maximizing ROI
- Building a great event website
- Building online and offline communities
- Finding the best keynote speakers
- Makings sure speakers arrive on time
- Making sure speakers are happy
- Making sure speakers don’t wander off minutes before their speech
- Finding some way to leverage such science-fiction sounding tech as chatbots, virtual reality, iBeacons, and more.
Not only did the skills required for events multiply over the years, but so did the types of events themselves:
- Conferences and conventions
- Tradeshows and expos
- Internal corporate events
- Meeting and networking events
- Social gatherings
- Fundraisers and galas
- Classes and workshops
Each one of these events has its own KPIs and desired outcomes. Each one of these events requires a unique marketing strategy. Each one of these events is a world unto itself, and today’s event planners need to master all of them.
Today event planning is a billion dollar industry.
Of the average Chief Marketing Officer’s total B2B marketing budget, live events account for 24% of annual spend. It’s estimated that that number is over $26 billion. A study by CMI found that out of all marketing tactics (including webinars, white papers, blogs, and videos), the majority of B2B marketers believe that in-person events are the most effective. Meanwhile, 81% of the respondents reported using events in their marketing strategy.
Plus, the events industry itself is growing. The past several years have seen a boom in the number of event planning professionals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the event planning industry is set to grow 10% in the next 10 years. More than ever before, event planners are in demand.
So...how about that title change?
Sheriff Karamat’s proposal of a title change for event planners is a welcome sign of the times. Given the many skills that today’s event planners are required to master, given the level of strategy that goes into making a contemporary business event happen, isn’t it about time that there’s a job title to match? “Business Event Strategist” definitely is a step in the right direction.
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