by Kevin Iwamoto | October 18, 2016

Kevin IwamotoMeetings & Conventions recently released its biennial planners’ salary survey, and it revealed that meeting professionals have made decent progress in their earning power. In case you didn’t see the article (, the salary data highlights are:

• Corporate planner salary has increased by 4 percent, from $75,969 in 2014 to $79,31 in 2016;
• Association planner salary was mostly unchanged, from $73,741 in 2014 to $73,187 in 2016;
• Combined, planners today earn an average base salary of $75,171;
• Female planners earn 75 cents to the male planner dollar.

Meanwhile, the GBTA Foundation’s latest annual Compensation and Benefits study, conducted for its membership of corporate travel buyers, showed a moderate 1.8 percent year-over-year increase in 2016, reaching $114,000. The study also revealed that GTP (Global Travel Professional) certification holders earn $125,000, which is 9.6 percent more than their peers. Some other interesting data points include:

• Buyers with a bachelor’s degree earn roughly $20,000 more than those without one;
• Those holding a master’s or other advanced degree earn an additional $20,000;
• In the West and Northeast, average income is considerably higher than in the Midwest and South;
• Income also increases with company travel spend, ranging from $88,000 at low-spend companies to $147,000 at high-spend companies;
• Directors earn an average of $161,000, 61 percent more than managers ($100,000), while managers earn roughly one-third more than experienced/entry level buyers ($74,000).

So if you compare both sectors of our industry, those whose careers are in corporate travel management earn roughly 6.5 percent more than corporate and association meeting planners. The survey studies also confirm that having education accreditation increases salaries and raises. It also is not surprising that management titles and size of corporate spend affect the level of salaries.

One disappointing commonality for both corporate travel and meetings and events professionals is that the gender salary gap continues to exist despite the call of many industry leaders (myself included) for change and remedy. Particularly in light of the fact that our industry employs many more women than men, it is amazing to me that a gender salary difference even exists. We need to do more to neutralize or eliminate this glaring discrepancy.

In summary, while it’s great that both meeting planners and corporate travel managers have experienced and received salary increases year-over-year, the industry still has a long way to go in terms of gender pay inequalities and recognition of the key strategic roles that planners and travel buyers play in keeping operating costs low, duty of care for traveling staff and striving to keep traveler/attendee experiences positive.

To explore M&C's salary numbers further, discover the details with the 2016 Interactive Salary Survey Dashboard.

Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto.