Sue Tinnish, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Kendall College School of Hospitality Management (www.kendall.edu) in Chicago, Illinois, knows that sometimes the fear and reality of juggling school, work and personal commitments can be daunting. However, she believes the right education can assist planners in overcoming the challenges of increasing expectations of the profession. “Fear should not overwhelm anyone; meeting professionals are the agent that can cause change in our industry and we need them to be current with skills and trends.”
“Meeting planning is not a matter of simply executing a meeting anymore,” Dr. Tinnish says. “The expectations on meeting planners today include skills that extend beyond the meeting management discipline. Here are five areas that will influence the professional future of meeting planners.”
1. Business skills like strategic planning and project management
2. Meeting design such as meeting formats and group dynamics
3. Sustainability that considers the environment and economic and sociocultural issues
4. Technology including hybrid meetings, blended meetings and social media
5. Adult learning that allows planners to attract, reach and interact with their attendees through speakers and the meeting itself
Employability is at the core of what Dr. Tinnish and her colleagues seek for Kendall students. Keeping track of trends and instructing students through real life experiences helps Kendall graduate profession-ready students. The top three trends today include:
1. Matching meeting outcomes to organizational objectives. Meetings must be tied to organizational goals, including making a contribution to the bottom line.
2. Matching meeting agendas to attendee diversity-participants are diverse in learning style, attention span and desired outcomes.
3. Sustainability is more than green and adds a new level of complexity to planning. Planners re-examine planning processes, office procedures, vendors and suppliers, standards and reporting, policy decisions and procurement policies.
Now is the time to assess your skills and contrast them to current and projected industry standards and expectations. If you feel you are behind, or not keeping up, investigate further education, understanding that academic institutions are ready, willing and able to accommodate your professional and personal life. Invest in your education for the betterment of yourself and the industry.
Have you recently returned to school to further your meeting planning career? If so, what classes helped you the most in your everyday tasks? Did more schooling equate to an increase in pay? Do share.