Elevating the Events Industry

August 31, 2019
By Marin Bright, Founder and CEO of Smart Meetings

It’s time for the meetings and events industry to move from the backroom to the boardroom. We know that face-to-face plays a critical role in boosting economies and encouraging innovation. Those tasked with managing the budgets that meetings and events require need to have a seat at the executive table.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed industry leaders take charge in making this strategic shift. Luckily, more resources are available than ever before for industry professionals to continue their education, learn new skills and amplify their engagement. Below are three recommended resources to further bolster our industry’s role in business and economic decision-making:

A Strategic Guide

Christy Lamagna’s guidebook, “The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals,” helps event professionals drive better business value through their events. In it, the owner of Strategic Meetings & Events explains: “Events are Maseratis when it comes to their raw power to move the needle on business objectives, but we are driving them like Priuses to the grocery store.”

Ahead of face-to-face events, Lamagna recommends that strategic planners engage in what she calls a master discovery session to find out the real reason the meeting is taking place. “We have always held an annual dinner,” is not a valid answer. “Increasing sales” is not a viable answer, either. Planners need to dig deeper, working with the management team to understand the larger strategy about market positioning and messaging.

We stand by Lamagna’s theory that, when meetings and events professionals are truly in the driver’s seat, they can utilize their expertise to navigate strategy and deliver results.

Certified Skill Building

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) offers a three-day immersive Event Design Certificate Program that introduces a 10-step visual approach to event design to put stakeholder needs at the center of the planning. It is built on #EventCanvas, a strategic event management template for developing new conference models.

Think of it as a hands-on approach to behavior mapping, better team collaboration, setting actionable objectives and measuring ROI. Program co-creator Ruud Janssen says: “It's a visual chart with elements describing an event's promise, how it helps stakeholders to get their jobs done, resolving pains and creating gains within a set framework of commitment and expected return.”

Certifications like these are designed to the boost the events industry by arming planners with the tools they need to be strategic leaders.

Mastering Event Management

A new Master’s in Meeting & Event Management Program at San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management welcomes the first cohort of mid-career professionals this fall. The concentrated 18-month program, built in conjunction with MPI, focuses on strategic leadership, stakeholder management, finance fundamentals, business analytics, applied design thinking and change management.

SDSU director Carl Winston says the industry has changed and it is time to move beyond solely logistics. “We will empower planners to drive their organization’s results which is how they will earn a seat at the table,” he said.

Great things happen when people come together. Face-to-face interactions play a critical role in creating better business deals and boosting our global economy. Now is the time to empower events professionals and recognize our industry for its substantial strategic capacity.