Career

What Does It Mean to Be an Event Strategist?

A meeting professional shares her thoughts on how to move from thinking logistically to thinking strategically.

When, as part of Convene‘s 26th Annual Meetings Market Survey, we asked meeting planners to name the biggest challenge that the meetings industry faces this year, this response came up more than once: “The perception of what we do outside our industry.”

The meetings and events industry is growing and job-growth rates for planners are rising by double digits year over year, points out Laura Lopez, senior community manager for Social Tables, the Washington, D.C.–based event-planning software company. Yet, she said, “planners continue to feel the pressure to justify the value of their roles.”

Lopez’s advice? “Defining and expanding the modern meeting planner’s place in the organization demands that meeting professionals expand beyond the role of logistics wizard,” she said. “They must dive deeper into design, data, and understanding the greater impact of our industry on the global economy.”

Lopez suggests that planners focus on three areas:

1. Evolve from a meeting planner to a business-event strategist

“Our roles have always been more than just managing logistics, so why doesn’t our title suggest that? The shift to a business-event strategist suggests that strategists know more than just logistics: They need to be more in tune with how their events impact an entire organization’s revenue growth. Strategists are becoming more thoughtful and deliberate in how they design every aspect of an event that affects its impact and success.”

2. Become best friends with your event’s technology and data

“Data’s importance in the events industry isn’t going away. It tells the story of your event’s insights that help your stakeholders understand why events impact their bottom line. And sure, you probably know the cost per attendee or the attendee numbers to stay within fire code. But with the increasing use of technology in the events world, understanding your app or software’s analytics and how to interpret data on the entire event ecosystem will enable you to reduce redundancies, save money, and have a bigger impact on attendee experiences.”

3. Understand the bigger impact of events

“Events don’t happen in a vacuum, but all too often, it’s easy for their social and environmental impact to be relegated to an afterthought. But savvy event strategists know we all have a responsibility in understanding how the environment bears the brunt of event outputs. Strategists need to rethink certain event choices — from the food and beverage selected, to the hosting venue, to giveaways presented to attendees — so that they are more sustainable and preserve our earth for future generations to enjoy.”

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.