66 Meetings & Conventions • mcmag.com March 2018
YOU’VE BECOME BOTH A “JACK” AND “MASTER” of all trades.
You nailed down transportation, accommodations and venues. You
secured guest speakers, entertainment, and food and beverage schemes.
You fluidly crunch numbers and negotiate contracts while creating a
rock star buzz across social media platforms. You also assembled a dream
team to assist with the nitty-gritty of permits, programs and on-site registration. You’re ahead of schedule and below budget—all while monitoring
communication systems that have raised the bar on efficiency.
This daunting checklist merely skims the surface of your responsibilities
as a meeting and event planner. Also understated is that the afore-men-tioned job moniker fails to reflect the expertise you bring to the table
beyond simply managing logistics.
You’re goal isn’t to simply arrange event components. You have a strate-gy-based comprehension of how an integrated, well-orchestrated program
can generate a hefty return on client investment. Your last event made you
a hero, and you’re determined to remain on track.
According to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by
American Express Meetings & Events (AmEx M&E), you’ll likely have an
opportunity to do just that.
Issa Jouaneh, the organization’s senior vice president and general
manager, comments in the report that the meetings and events industry
should be optimistic about growth in terms of “spend, number of meetings
and attendees,” and that, “meeting owners are prioritizing attendee experience and engagement over scale.”
While key insights point to continued uncertainty of economic and
geopolitical influences, Jouaneh voiced that the industry anticipates
ongoing resilience and continued focus on successful experiences.
On the financial front, budgets are predicted to remain flat or inch up
a mere one percent above 2017 numbers. Since the investment in events
is typically a substantial chunk of a corporate marketing expenditure, it’s
even more critical that you ramp up from a tactical to a strategic mentality
for scrutinizing every line item.
Simply stated, your profession is growing more complex. Corporations
are elevating their expectations of meeting and event professionals beyond
being practitioners who execute.
Stephanie Harris, AmEx M&E’s director of Global Marketing & Event
Strategy, deems the progression from meeting planner to Business Events
Strategist as fundamental for gaining recognition that yours is a legitimate,
essential occupation rather than a part-time function.
“This role, more than many others in an organization, delivers an
experience that is a direct reflection of the brand,” says Harris. “By extension, recognizing and supporting the importance of this role equates to
recognizing and supporting the importance of a brand.”
Harris stresses that through aligning event and business strategies,
a Business Events Strategist will skew toward operating in more of a
“partner” role. Your end-to-end accountability begins with helping to
create a vision for how an event can achieve company goals via a positive
impact on the key players—whether those are customers, partners or
internal team members.
It then flows to establishing and accomplishing priorities, elevating the
attendee experience and reporting a positive return on investment.
“Post-event, you’ll understand how to deliver information about what
the event returned to the organization—either in opportunity, perception
or experience—and provide direction for how that learning can be applied
across a full event portfolio,” Harris says.
Alex Doyle, vice president of sales for 21st
Century Group, a meetings management and
site selection firm, considers an event planner
as a logistics partner, while a Business Events
Strategist helps to create, enhance and deliver
the corporate vision.
“As a Business Events Strategist, you must be
able to offer specific strategic solutions to achieve
Simply stated, your profession is
growing more complex. Corporations are
elevating their expectations of meeting
and event professionals beyond being
practitioners who execute. [ ]
The Name of the
HOW TO ELEVATE YOUR MINDSET AND SKILLSET
TO THE STRATEGIST SPHERE —BY DAWNA L. ROBERTSON