Meetings & Conventions SALARY SURVEY October
1999 SALARY SURVEY
Most corporate planners say they are content and
Do your earnings measure up?
By Sarah J.F. Braley Photograph by James Porto
During childhood, your parents measured you on
the wall, marking the inches you grew and comparing how tall you
were with a sibling's height at the same age. Once in school,
grades became the yardstick, enabling you to gauge how well you
were doing in a class and in comparison with your classmates.
Performance reviews provide some indication of how you are doing on
the job, but it is more difficult, once you enter the working
world, to find a way to size up how your workload and compensation
rank next to those of your peers.
Meetings & Conventions commissioned a salary survey
to give corporate planners a gauge. The Survey Center, an
independent market-research company based in Mashpee, Mass., polled
800 corporate meeting planners in the United States, chosen
randomly from M&C's subscriber database. Contacted in
June, the planners were asked about such matters as compensation,
benefits, job satisfaction and work habits.
Here is the bottom line: The average annual base salary in 1998
was slightly more than $60,000, and 20 percent of the respondents
had a base salary of more than $80,000. Although nearly 60 percent
of the respondents were women, the men's salaries were
disproportionately higher than the women's. Virtually all those
surveyed have received recent salary increases, and 80 percent
expect their next raise to be the same percentage or higher.
Almost three-quarters of the planners are satisfied with their
current compensation in relation to their job responsibilities, and
92 percent are not worried about being laid off in the near future.
About one-third expect to add employees to their meetings
departments in the next 12 months.MY KINDA
Going strictly by the numbers, the best place
to work as a corporate planner is the Chicago area, where the
average salary is $67,331, about $3,500 more than in the West or
the Northeast. What's your reaction?I think you're a little high, as far as I
know, for the area. But I'm not surprised the area is so good,
because of all the organizations and corporations here. It's better
than where I came from [Pittsburgh]. That's why I wanted to
Renée Magnus, planner, TruServ Corp.
hardware cooperative, ChicagoThat's amazing. I always think of the coasts
as being more expensive than the Midwest, and salaries being
Linda Reynolds, vice president and manager of event
Wells Fargo Bank, San FranciscoWell, go find me a job there! I always feel
the standard of living and the cost of living in the Midwest and
the South are not as high as in the West and here. It surprises me
that they would be better paid.
Shar Mueller, vice president and manager of corporate
planning, Marsh insurance brokerage, New York City
Dollars and cents
Although corporate planners made an average of $60,650 last year,
the greatest percentage, 49 percent, made between $30,000 and
$59,999. On the lower end, 12 percent made less than $29,999 in
1998. A healthy 14 percent made $90,000 or more. Five percent are
in the $150,000-or-more category.
Men made an average of $27,719 more than women last year. The
men averaged $76,079, while women averaged $48,360, meaning for
every dollar a man in this segment of the meetings industry made, a
woman earned just 64 cents. As a point of reference, consider the
national average just one year earlier: In 1997, women earned 74
cents to every dollar a man made, according to U.S. Census
Compared with the gender disparity, the numbers when broken down
by age seem quite logical. Corporate planners who are younger than
35 earned an average of $44,938 in 1998; those 35 to 54 took home
$60,942, and yearly paychecks for people 55 and older averaged
The survey also broke down the meeting planners' salaries by
their job titles. Corporate executives and managers earned the most
last year, $82,258; those with meetings-specific titles, like
meeting planner or convention manager, averaged $50,708; those who
are in general management, administration or who are executive
secretaries earned $50,206, and planners with "other" titles took
home $55,588.FOR YOUR
Some respondents indicated their companies offer
telecommuting, flextime, access to a company car, on-site child
care, payments for association memberships and other personal
life-enhancing benefits. Do you get any of these? Which do you wish
you were offered?The day care on site is so critical. Even
though I don't have children, I see how people struggle. If you
want someone to be productive, you have to offer them some relief
and help them balance. We belong to a day-care system.
Denise D'Arbonne, CMP, manager, meeting services, Pepsi-Cola,
Purchase, N.Y.I think telecommuting would be a great option,
even if it was just one day a week. Everybody has a computer at
home now. It's pretty easy to do. I'd also like the company to pay
for my cell phone, a pager and a laptop.
Judi Maher, associate director of events, Children's Memorial
Foundation, ChicagoWe have telecommuting and flextime. Unwritten
policy allows us to take comp days for when we're working on
weekends, which is great in this industry. Plus, the company pays
for MPI [dues].
Richard Bowen, senior events manager, Oracle, Redwood City,
Male meeting planners make an average of $27,719
more a year than female planners. Any reaction?Well, this is really disgusting, but I know
it's the truth. A lot of times men come to planning from executive
or higher-ranking managerial levels than women do. By virtue of
what they've done previously, they get higher salaries.
Laura B. Yarbrough, CMP, program manager, marketing events,
EDS, Plano, TexasYou're kidding. Being a man, I'm shocked that
that's happening. Maybe it's just denial. In this office, it's not
the case, because [compensation is] all based on seniority and
Bruce Finch, conference planner, The Gillette Co.,
BostonThat's ridiculous. As a planner, I think of
things that men won't think of. I pay more attention to details. I
feel there are probably a lot more women planners than men, and why
should men make more money?
Susan Huntsberry, administrative assistant to Western region
manager, Mobil Oil Corp., Torrance, Calif..
When salaries are examined from a regional standpoint, Chicago
and its surrounding states offer the best deals. Planners living in
the eastern north-central part of the country (Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) averaged $67,331 a year. The Pacific
region (Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii) was
second, with $63,883, and the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island and Vermont) came in a close third at $63,827.
The mountain states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada,
New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) ranked fourth, at $59,298, followed
by the central South (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas) at $56,518. Planners in
the South Atlantic region (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland,
North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington,
D.C.) earned an average of $54,925.
The western north-central region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota,
Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota) brought up the rear,
One-third of those surveyed received cash bonuses, and slightly
fewer, 27 percent, participated in a profit-sharing program in
1998. But it is not just the executives who are benefiting from
these programs: Of the 257 people who said they pocketed a cash
bonus, 16 percent earned less than $40,000, 40 percent earned
between $40,000 and $79,999, and 22 percent earned more than
The numbers are similar for those who were part of a
profit-sharing program. Of the 210 who participated in one, 19
percent earned less than $40,000, 38 percent earned between $40,000
and $79,999 and 25 percent earned more than $80,000.
Although most planners reported they have the usual paid time
off (sick days, holidays and vacations), many indicated they get a
number of other attractive benefits. About 38 percent say their
companies pay their professional society membership dues, 46
percent get tuition reimbursement and 13 percent have access to
scholarships for their children.
Among other useful pluses provided by corporations are the
option to telecommute (26 percent), use of a subsidized cafeteria
(12 percent), care from a doctor on staff (6 percent), access to a
company car (18 percent), on-site child care (4 percent) and
payments for child care (3 percent). More than 30 percent have
flextime options, enabling them to start and end their work days
when they want, but only 7 percent report their companies offer
Despite all the grumblings about mergers and acquisitions and fears
of downsizing, corporate planners seem to be pretty happy in their
positions. A healthy 91 percent of the 800 planners surveyed report
they are satisfied with their jobs.
These corporate planners are quite certain their jobs are not in
jeopardy. When asked if they think their companies will lay off
employees in positions like theirs in the next year, 87 percent
said no, and more than 90 percent indicated they feel secure in
their current positions.
About 35 percent of the respondents expected their companies to
hire more planners in the next year, which could mean good news for
the 14 percent who said the one change they would make to improve
their jobs would be to get more help. Ten percent said if they
could make one change, more money would do the trick. Eight percent
want more time, 4 percent want better communication and 2 percent
want more authority. Three percent would like more cooperation.
The robust economy might be the reason 58 percent of the
planners surveyed expect the same percentage increase in their
salaries they received last year. Another 20 percent are
anticipating larger increases than in 1998. About 6 percent
reported that no one in the company got a raise in 1998, and 6
percent think no one will get one this year, either. Along the same
lines, 6 percent said some positions did not get raises in 1998,
and 4 percent said there will be no raises for some positions this
Hard work pays off
A common perception is that planners have incredibly long work
weeks. But for the majority, the reality is not quite so dim. A
little more than 60 percent work an average of 40 to 50 hours a
week, although a significant chunk of those polled 24 percent are
slogging through 60-hour or longer weeks.
Broken down by gender, 36 percent of the men are putting in
60-plus-hour weeks, while only 16 percent of the women are. More
than 70 percent of the women reported they work between 40 and 50
hours, while 50 percent of the men spend that amount of time on
their jobs each week.
Aside from all their meeting planning responsibilities, 42
percent of those surveyed supervise two to 10 people, while 31
percent do not supervise anyone but themselves. About 11 percent
have departments of 11 to 20 people under them, and 6 percent
supervise more than 30 people.
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