We all heard event planner is among 5 most stressful occupations in the world. Some of us say it with pride while others with regret. In any case we, event professionals, acknowledge it is true – but is it widely acknowledged by the world outside of the industry? I doubt it.
We also talk a lot recently about value meetings and events bring to communities and economies. We acknowledge it is a huge value and we back it up by numbers. But is it truly acknowledged by other industries, by communities, friends and families? Still not as much as it should be I’d say.
This can be tested easily. Although “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet“, perceptions are often captured in an unofficial title (or rather a nickname) assigned to a certain occupation. I remember myself years ago trying to explain to my friends what I do and how it was met by ‘oh, you’re a party planner then’. Now, that wasn’t anything wrong about it – a party planner is as great profession as any other; but it didn’t feel right either cause this was not and is not what I do. It does not feel right for meetings industry fellows today either – given the modern realities and the numbers the industry delivers.
I’ve recently attended the PYM virtual summit, and was shocked to learn – from a chat during one of the sessions – many more nicknames my fellow eventprofs have been given by their colleagues, partners and so on. Check it out:
× a food lady;
× a travel agent;
× an office santa;
× an ice-cream planner;
× an order-taker;
× a coffee-girl;
× a queen of space.
If not offensive (and I’d say it is), then at very least these titles have nothing to do with the level which business event professionals operate on, daily.
I don’t think though that people strive to offend event & meeting planners. Then why is it happening? What do these titles above actually show?
I believe it comes from a) a lack of understanding of what we do and value we provide, and b) marking their own role down by eventprofs themselves; explaining value in logistics terms because this is how everybody is used to get it (with the exception that it is not about logistics only, not anymore).
How do we go about it? To change it, I see a two-fold solution:
- Educate ‘outside’ world about exactly what you do, and aim to explain the strategic level of your work, and not the operational, first. Because this is what your stakeholders remember – operations are more obvious (menu, transport and paperwork). Try and explain how events change professionals and businesses and what’s your role in creating such catalytic environment. Think of some bright examples of strategic actions and stick to them when showcasing your work.
- Inhabit a strategic role you play. By juggling dozen of details, including those related to logistics that everybody understands, you are more like a magician creating one in a lifetime experience. The difference is that you actually understand and oversee why and how you juggle things in a specific way, and this is why we should be known and widely acknowledged as Event Strategists.