We keep hearing about the double dip recession being right around the corner. Today it’s hard to tell whether we are heading backwards or whether or not it’s just the mainstream media keeping us in fear by trying to grab headlines. Wherever we are heading economically one thing we know is certain – companies today are operating on tighter and tighter budgets. What does that mean for a meeting planner working for these types of companies? Well for one it means that they have to be more creative at producing meetings and events that will both attract attendees and keep costs in line at the same time.
Today’s Meeting Planner is a Multitasker
Surveying a few colleagues of mine that are meeting planners, almost all of them tell me at one point that the budgets or rather executing successful meetings with the budgets allotted them is the real challenge. Ironically these same meeting planners are also tasked with coming up with an event that attracts attendees. In other words making the meeting or event something that people will want to attend as opposed to have to attend. Not an easy task if you don’t have the budget for it.
A Do-It-Yourself Style for the Meeting Planner
Ask any destination management company, or DMC, and they’ll be the first to tell you that a lot of meetings and their various components are being planned and executed by the meeting planner themselves. It used to be quite common that a meeting planner would contact a local DMC to help come up with a creative program that they could turn around and present to their group. The meeting planner would often request that the DMC provide events that are exciting, something the people in the group could not do on their own, so that it would create interest. As companies budgets for meetings and events get downsized so do some of the supplier companies. That means that the meeting planner has to turn to the local convention and visitors Bureau, or CVB, to help present some options for their meeting. Another source that the meeting planner uses is the Internet. Sites that help planners source and contact appropriate suppliers, without costing the meeting planner any additional fees, are becoming quite popular.
The hardest job for a meeting planner is producing a creative “better than the last meeting program” yet costing less than the last program. No easy feat even for a seasoned meeting planner. Meeting planners today are developing a do-it-yourself style. It doesn’t mean they’re not looking for assistance. It just means for suppliers that often the assistance comes without a cost associated with it. Does that mean the business model is changing? You bet it does. Just how that business model will look in five or 10 years is still anybody’s guess.