Need a Meeting Planner? Expect to Search Harder and Pay More As the role of meeting planners becomes more important to the strategic success of U.S. companies, salaries are increasing at a steady clip, and job security is growing. So says the Meeting Professionals International 2000 Compensation Survey, which compiled information from more than 1,200 meeting organizers nationwide.
"There's a demand for qualified corporate meeting planners," says Dawn Penfold, president of The Meeting Candidate in New York City, an executive search firm (firstname.lastname@example.org). "People with solid skills and adequate experience are very highly valued in today's economy." Penfold also notes a sharp trend away from , in favor of an in-house meeting planner with experience in a specific area, such as manufacturing or insurance. "Management doesn't have time to train anymore," she explains. "They need professionals who can roll up their sleeves and get going. And they're willing to pay for that."
According to the MPI survey, over the past two years the average income among in-house corporate meeting planners has increased more than 16 percent to $56,120, up from $48,216 in 1998. The highest level of compensation is in the Northeastern United States, at $60,064; the lowest, in the South, is $52,920. In addition, fewer meeting planners are being paid by the hour or by commission, and more are getting bonuses on top of their salary (30 percent, up from 24 percent two years ago).
In spite of the devastating effects that mergers and downsizing are having on the economy, very few meeting planners surveyed feel as if they were in danger of losing their jobs. That may help to explain why 90 percent of them are satisfied with their current jobs, and three-quarters have no intention of changing jobs or leaving the field in the next year.
According to MPI stats, "average" compensation is achieved within 12 years; ratchet that up 20 years or more, and meeting professionals can expect an increase of about 28 percent more. Penfold says that's an indication that companies are no longer looking for a strong number two person to promote. "The ability to develop and move people up is not as important as finding someone who's already done it," notes Penfold. "I'm afraid that will make mentoring a thing of the past, and 10 years down the road we won't have qualified meeting planners coming up through the pipeline."