If you are confused by
the many different types and titles of planning jobs, you are not
alone. Many people considering or entering the planning profession
find the variety of positions somewhat daunting to get a handle on.
For the sake of clarity, M&C has compiled the
following brief glossary of terms.
Meeting planners plan
content-driven meetings, symposia, conferences, seminars and
educational gatherings. Such positions typically fall under one of
the following three distinct branches.
planners organize annual conferences, educational events,
board meetings and other gatherings for the associations that
planners work on customer events, internal events (sales
launches, incentives, corporate retreats) or a combination thereof
for their companies. These professionals often work within a firm’s
marketing, human resources, travel or procurement departments,
while other companies have bona fide planning departments.
planners might specialize in a particular field, such as
pharmaceutical, technology or international meetings, or can work
with any type of client or association. They are employed and paid
by the meeting organizers, typically on a per-project basis.
Event planners’ job
functions often are assumed to be interchangeable with those of
meeting planners. But while an event planner is a meeting planner,
a meeting planner is not necessarily an event planner. Event
professionals, in addition to planning meetings, often must
organize revenue-generating events (including trade shows), special
events and product launches; they also typically have some
responsibility for the meeting/event’s overall strategy and
Event producers focus
on areas such as audiovisual capabilities, set design, lighting,
etc. They also might assist with and/or specialize in event decor
marketers, also called event marketers, used to specialize
in trade shows; today, they typically work on different types of
revenue-generating or image-building events involving live
participants, including webinars and other online events. This role
relies heavily on marketing prowess -- particularly skills in
branding and messaging.
professionals specialize in marketing an event, rather
than creating and planning one. So-called “marcom” pros typically
get involved in strategic planning, written communications and
professionals, or DMCs, know a city or region inside-out
and offer a variety of services that can include complete onsite
management of a meeting or incentive, or the running of a la carte
functions, including airport meet-and-greets, off-site events and
transportation. DMCs can work directly with clients or in
conjunction with other third-party suppliers, such as meeting or
organizers, or PCOs, typically combine the functions of a
DMC and those of an independent planner. This is a highly skilled
and respected job overseas, although it is rarely performed in the
United States. The most effective PCOs have strong connections with
the governments in the countries in which they work and can
facilitate events from A to Z by circumventing red tape.
Site selection/marketing event
professionals work for firms that find venues for their
clients; they often negotiate terms of contracts. In return, they
take a commission from the venue. Marketing companies work with one
or more hotel groups or chains to market the group’s attributes to
event professionals; again, marketing event pros typically earn a
commission from these hotel groups.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is a marketing event consultant based in
California’s Silicon Valley.