As we enter the New Year, I find it interesting to see the industry predictions that the “experts” put out for the enlightenment of us mere mortals.
On December 14th, Associations Now published a report from IBTM World that suggested that economic trends might predict that 2017 would be a buyers’ market. The article said that “the market, which has traditionally favored vendors, is starting to turn the other way due to changes in the business models of hotels and event venues. This means that event planners could soon have more negotiating power.” This image conflicts with the sentiments expressed by 67 per cent of incentive suppliers and 56 per cent of buyers who stated that the current world economy has the potential to negatively impact their travel programs (from the initial release of the SITE Index for 2017). Certainly our clients remain much focused on budget and find it difficult to secure the space they want at a price that they would really like to pay.
There seems to be a general feeling that the importance of meetings as a tool to bring us together in an age of increasing fragmentation continues to grow (just look at the MPI or PCMA websites). That would seem to indicate that meeting planners would be growing in importance to their organizations. However, according to Convene’s 2016 salary survey, “fewer meeting professionals received raises compared with last year’s survey, and those increases were significantly less than those received in the prior year.” According to M&C magazine’s 2016 Salary Survey, the average planner in the US earned $75,171 versus the corporate travel buyer who earned an average $114,000. Adding to that disappointing news was the fact that in both Canada and the US, female planners earned significantly less than their male counterparts. I don’t know where the industry salary expectations are going, but I do know I regularly warn students who are considering M&E as a future profession that they must realize their salary potential is somewhat limited.
Political change continues to dominate the news. Both the Brexit vote results and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President have been analyzed a great deal recently as planners and sellers try to understand how those events will impact our profession. No one at this time knows for sure how a growing move against globalism will impact the movement of attendees and the selection of event locations, but we all monitor the political landscape.
Finally, event security is increasingly important for planners. The MPI Toronto Chapter’s “Meeting” magazine for January/February 2017 is focused on topics related to safety and security, while Convene ran a feature article on November 30th about how event security is changing. Certainly as buyers of meetings and incentive travel, we are concerned about how terrorism may affect our attendees.
For the first couple of years after I started writing the Industry Insider blog in 2009, I use to make 10 or 11 predictions for the event industry at year end and then see in a 12 months how close I was to reality. Now, I want someone to pass the crystal ball so I can avoid the guesswork and ensure every decision that I make is the best one for my employer and our clients.
– Les Selby is the director of Meetings & Events for Aimia’s Channel and Employee division in Canada. He has been a corporate, third party and independent event professional for over 25 years. Les has earned both his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and his Global Certification in Meeting Management (CMM). Inducted into Meeting + Incentive Travel Magazine’s Industry Hall of Fame in 2009, he is an active member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI). He served on the Toronto chapter’s Board of Directors, and was the 2000-2001 chapter president. In 1997, Les was recognized as Planner of the Year by the MPI Toronto chapter, and received the President’s Award for 2009. He can be reached at email@example.com.