In order to give meeting planners their due, there’s an effort afoot to rename them.
It’s a controversial move to call a meeting planner a “business event strategist” as some organizers focus on strategy; others on logistics. However, many industry professionals believe the two types can co-exist.
“Meetings drive success but the profession is only credited for logistics,” explained Sherrif Karamt, president and CEO at Professional Convention Management Association, the leading proponent of the change. “That’s very valuable but we feel the role is narrowly defined.”
John Nawn, founder of The Perfect Meeting, says both perspectives are necessary. “If logistics aren’t covered, bad things can happen, but if strategy isn’t covered, you may have wasted time and money because the content—among other things—isn’t aligned with objectives.
“Being strategic is imperative,” added MaryAnne Bobrow, president at Bobrow Associates. “If you’re going to survive in events, you need a working knowledge of our industry’s new competencies.”
“Business events strategist is a cool term but unless planners are invited to discuss what the business is and why an event furthers strategy, it’s just a potential hashtag.”
Agreed Meeting Professionals International’s Kristi Casey Sanders, director of thought leadership, “You need to deliver an experience and you can’t do that by checking boxes. Details will always be important but as a friend once said, ‘You don’t return to a conference because registration went smoothly.’”
Some meeting organizers are worried that those who focus on logistics will be replaced by machines, but that’s unlikely, stated Liz Lathan, executive VP of global events at Haute Rock Creative.
“Meeting planning can’t be automated, there is a future for us. The entire purpose is that face-to-face get together and if you automate that, you’ve lost touch with reality.”
Added Andrea Michaels, president at Extraordinary Events, “Logistics keep an event running smoothly. If you have a group of 10,000 and there’s a fire, no robot or piece of technology can say what to do.”
Still, she noted, “When you look at the money being spent by the organization and the need for a return on investment, understanding strategy is critical.”
Yet Michaels remains skeptical. “Business event strategist is a cool term but unless planners are invited to discuss what the business is and why an event furthers strategy, it’s just a potential hashtag.”
Karmat has a message for the naysayers. “I guarantee you this is not just a buzz word because people who have not been recognized are doing incredible work. This will make the world better understand our industry, and its impact.”