Two years ago, we published the first-ever salary survey geared toward senior meeting managers. This year, we have updated it, in conjunction with SPIN (Senior Planners Industry Network), and once again, we hand-picked only those at the top level of the meetings profession.

The average respondent in this survey has 18 years of experience in the meetings industry and has been with his or her company for 10 years and present job for seven. His department manages an average of 62 meetings annually. Just over half of respondents (57 percent) have direct reports, three on average. The vast majority (73 percent) are responsible for corporate travel in addition to meetings.

This year’s findings reflect the new economy. Significantly more respondents got salary increases last year than in 2009 (76 vs. 61 percent) and the average bonus was $1,000 more. But 82 percent got salary increases that were under 5 percent. And outsourcing was down, as was the number of direct reports, indicating that companies are doing more with less.

Fewer respondents in this year’s sample have strategic meetings management programs (29 percent vs. 45 percent two years ago), though of those who do, 65 percent either have taken them global or plan to.

The average salary of survey respondents was $88,726 in 2011 vs. $101,344 in 2009. (Note, however, that we partnered with a different association this time; the 2010 survey was done in conjunction with the Global Business Travel Association.) The vast majority of respondents (65 percent) received a bonus last year, and slightly more are expecting one this year. A little more than half of those bonuses were under $10,000, and 23 percent were between $10,000 and $14,999.

Raises were moderate, with 82 percent of respondents receiving raises that were less than 5 percent of their salaries. The average increase is expected to remain just about the same this year (3.6 percent) as last (3.8 percent), and those numbers are about the same as they were in 2009 and 2010.

According to respondents, salary increases are determined primarily by merit (81 percent) and cost of living (34 percent).

In our results, there was no correlation between higher salaries and whether respondents manage both meetings and travel or just meetings. (In fact, those who manage just meetings made about $5,000 more.) On the other hand, there was a direct connection between average salary and number of years in the meetings industry, with the most seasoned respondents (25-plus years) making an average of $20,000 more per year than those with the least amount of experience (less than 15 years). Also not surprising is the connection between annual salary and the number of people managed, with those who manage more than five people making an average of $108,261 versus those with no direct reports ($78,134). Education also influences salary, with respondents with graduate degrees making an average of $100,750 versus those with high school degrees and some college ($84,934).

CMP certification appears to have a only slight influence on salary, with those holding CMP designations making just under $1,700 a year more than their counterparts with no certifications.

Salaries varied slightly according to industry, with those who work at tech companies on the low end. The number of years respondents spend at their companies matters more: The average salary of those with 10 years or more at their companies was significantly higher at $95,127 than that of those with less than five years, who made $77,663.

Respondents planned an average of 62 meetings each year. One in three respondents are responsible for more than 100 meetings annually. We found no correlation between the number of meetings planned and respondents’ salaries until that number reached 100 meetings. Those who plan 51 to 100 meetings per year made just about the same as those who plan 1 to 50, then salaries rose several thousand dollars (to an average of $93,443) for those who planned more than 100 meetings per year.

Strategic meetings management and outsourcing continue to be significant trends among this group, though fewer respondents to this survey (29 percent) had an SMMP in place than those who responded to our last survey (45 percent). (Note: The previous survey included GBTA members, many of whom are mature SMM practitioners.) Of the respondents who do have an SMMP in place, 65 percent either have rolled it out globally or plan to.

With SMMPs come preferred suppliers, and their use is clearly on the rise. For our updated survey, we added a question to see how prevalent they are, and found that more than half of respondents have preferred-supplier contracts with hotels, followed by third-party meeting management companies (36 percent) and DMCs (21 percent). As companies take their programs global, the use of preferred vendors will spread as well.

Methodology

In May, Penton Media e-mailed invitations to participate in an online survey to 28,279 subscribers of Corporate Meetings & Incentives and SPIN (Senior Planners Industry Network) e-mailed invitations to 478 members. We received a total of 253 responses. Of those, only 210 respondents with the following senior-level titles (senior meeting manager, director of meetings, VP of meetings, senior meeting manager, meeting manager, meeting/travel manager, and senior meeting planner) were included in these analyses.

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2010 Senior Meeting Manager Salary Survey