Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 20 2015

3 Things Meeting Planners Will Need In The Future

By David McMillin



At Convening Leaders 2015, more than 4,000 meeting planners and suppliers tackled the key issues currently impacting their organizations, but the present tense wasn’t the only piece of the conversation. The audience was equally focused on looking well into the future, too. On the opening day of the conference, six C-level veterans gathered for a panel discussion to predict the future of associations — and what that future means for meeting planners. Here’s a look at three key ingredients that will help planners move forward.

1) A new name.

Tired of calling yourself a meeting and event planner? You’re not the only one who believes the title no longer matches the job description.

“We may want to develop new terminology other than ‘meetings’ to define a planner’s role,” Paul Pomerantz, CEO, American Society of Anesthesiologists, said. “We want you to do more than meetings. We believe the meeting planner can evolve into a C-level position.”

At ASA, that evolution is already well underway with Chris Wehking, CMP and PCMA’s Past Chairman of the Board of Directors, occupying the role of Chief Program Officer. In addition to overseeing all of ASA’s meetings and events, Wehking’s responsibilities include membership, marketing and corporate relations.

SEE ALSO: How To Redefine The Role Of A Meeting Planner

2) More education.

As more meeting planners work to play a role in shaping high-level organizational strategies, the panelists highlighted the need for more time in the classroom prior to earning that coveted seat at the table.

“We’re going to see more demand that meeting executives have MBAs,” Thomas Dolan, Ph.D, FACHE, FASAE, President Emeritus, American College of Healthcare Executives, said. “An MBA is going to become almost a requirement, along with the CMP designation.”

However, just earning another three-letter badge of higher education will not be enough. Peter O’Neil, CAE, Executive Director, American Industrial Hygiene Association, stressed the importance of a planner’s ability to regularly reevaluate his or her approach to work. O’Neil cited one of his favorite quotes from friend and fellow PCMA member Dave Lutz, CMP, Managing Director, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

“We need our meeting planners to be constantly learning, unlearning and relearning,” Lutz told him.

LEARN: The Ultimate CMP Prep Course

3) Directions for global navigation.

The next generation of members and attendees will not be confined to North America and Europe. With markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa emerging as major business destinations, associations will need to capitalize on international opportunities to expand their communities. Meeting planners must be conscious of the need to learn the ins and outs of doing business in new parts of the world. 

“We’re looking for cultural sensitivity,” Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE, CEO, The Association for Operations Management, said. “What works here does not work across the globe. Working across time zones is a critical part of success.”

SEE ALSO: How The Meetings Industry Will Expand Across The Globe In 2015

Looking for more takeaways from Convening Leaders? Click here for a daily recap of the biggest highlights from Chicago.


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