Where do most independent meeting planners find work? In the corporate market segment, according to "A Market Report on Independent Meeting Executives," recently released by The Harris Group, Alexandria, Va. Shelly Harris, CMP, Harris Group president, summarized survey results during the 6th Annual Educational Conference of the Alliance of Meeting Management Companies on Thursday.

Independent planner respondents derive 72 percent of their business from corporate clients, which includes technology, healthcare/pharmaceutical, and financial services.

Respondents derived 44 percent of their business from associations, and 25 percent from government clients.

In all three of the segments, executive level staff are the primary hirers. And on what criteria were planners selected? "Relationships, reputation, and referrals," said Harris, "in all three market segments."

Other findings:

  • Average size of the assocations that hire independent planners: 101 to 100 members and 10 or less staff

  • Average fee charged by an independent meeting planner: $73

  • Service sold most often: Onsite meeting management (42 percent)

  • Secondary services offered: fundraising and marketing

  • How independent planners market themselves: Networking (90 percent); referrals (98 percent)

  • Annual dollars spent on marketing: Less than $100 Industry trends reported by respondents

  • Biggest challenge: Smaller budgets and adapting to new travel policies

  • Biggest change in the meeting arena in 2002: Big budget cuts and decrease in attendance.

  • Biggest threat in 2002: Volatile economy

  • What will help you grow? Web-based applications in marketing

The survey was distributed to full-service meeting management company executives from a database collected by The Harris Group. The survey’s focus was the small- to medium-sized independent business owner who provides full-service meeting management. It does not include traditional single-service providers, nor was it distributed to large meeting houses or DMCs.

For more information on the survey, or to purchase the detailed results of the survey, visit www.groupharris.com. To take part in the next survey, go to http://surveys.asapware.com/survsimp/harrisgroup.