For some reason, as I sat on the runway at NYC’s LaGuardia airport last night, waiting for a huge line of thunderstorms to move through so we could take off, I got to thinking about the "meetings industry." What exactly is it, and what should it be? How do we define it? I think this lack of a definition, or rather, the multiplicity of definitions, that may be one barrier to those in the industry getting the respect they deserve.
There’s always been a lot of talk about logistics versus strategic planners, with the "coffee cup counters" often being looked down upon by those who are more focused on designing meetings to fit in with the organization’s goals and objectives. But the logistics are important too. After all, what are the two biggest factors attendees talk about, the two things that, if you get them wrong, nothing else you do will be perceived as right? Yup, room temperature and food—logistics. If the seats are uncomfortable, the room setup not conducive to learning, the lighting harsh, the sound system bad, it doesn’t matter how well-designed your meeting is or how compelling the content, people won’t be able to focus. And yet, the logicians are the ones who usually are on the lower rungs of the career ladder in terms of salary and prestige.
Why is it that "the system" is skewed to reward people only as they move "up the ladder," rather than rewarding them for being the best at what they do. Why force people to move into management, which may not be where their skills and talents lie, to be "successful" in terms of salary, respect, and all that jazz? I've never gotten this. If you're a fabulous dishwasher, or meetings logician, why not have that be respected and rewarded for what it is, rather than trying to force people to be what they're not in order to get more money and respect? On the hotel side, why should good CSMs have to move to sales to make more money?
Can those of us who care about such things work to find ways to get organizations to reward and respect what all levels do, without forcing those who strive for excellence in whatever area to move into an area where they are not likely to excel due to interest level or whatever?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.