In the past couple of years, senior meeting managers have been telling us that there’s no research directed specifically toward them. So this spring, Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine, along with the National Business Travel Association Foundation and Financial & Insurance Conference Planners, embarked on a first-ever research project to explore trends among those at the top level of the meetings profession.
This survey explores everything from their education, experience, and certification, to the size of their departments and the number of meetings they plan, to whether or not they are responsible for combined meetings and travel—and how all of these correlate with salary. We also touch onand , both of which are the responsibilities of those at the most senior level.
The goal of this project was to create a new body of knowledge against which senior meeting managers can benchmark their jobs. Further surveys will explore the goals and accomplishments of this niche.
Thanks to Steve Bova, executive director of Financial & Insurance Conference Planners, and Caleb Tiller, director, marketing and communications, NBTA, and Joe Bates, director of research, NBTA Foundation, for their collaboration and support.
The average salary of survey respondents was $101,344 and, despite the challenging economy, the vast majority (83.2 percent) received a bonus in 2009. The amounts of those bonuses ran the gamut, with 7.6 percent receiving less than $2,500, 21.6 percent receiving more than $20,000, and the median bonus at $10,000.
Raises were fairly moderate last year, with three-quarters of respondents receiving raises of 5 percent or less. The outlook for 2010 was slightly better: 82.1 percent said they expect to receive a raise this year, though the average increase is expected to remain about the same (3.7 percent in 2010 and. 3.9 percent in 2009).
According to respondents, salary increases are determined by merit (90.5 percent), cost of living (24.2 percent), and other factors ranging from company performance to meeting savings targets.
There was little correlation between salary and number of years at a company, probably due to the fact that many respondents had changed companies once or twice. On the other hand, there was a direct connection between average salary and number of years in the meetings industry, with a fairly significant jump in salary (just over 15 percent) once respondents hit the 15-year mark. There was also a correlation between annual salary and the number of people managed, with those who manage more than five people making as much as 40 percent more than those with no direct reports.
A little more than one-third of respondents are responsible for combined meetings and travel, but surprisingly, the additional responsibility has no bearing on salaries. Those who managed both functions reported an average salary of $97,857 and those who didn’t averaged $103,448.
Meetings industry certification appears to have a slight influence on salary, with those holding their CMP and CMM designations making about $3,000 more on average than their counterparts with no certifications.
Salaries varied significantly according to industry, with professional services (legal, consulting, architecture, engineering, etc.) on the low end. On the high end was automotive, with an average salary of $120,833, which is $19,489 more than the overall average salary.
It’s no surprise to find a correlation between the size of respondents’ meeting departments and the number of meetings they plan. What was a surprise was how little the number of meetings planned affected their salaries: For example, those who plan 76 to 100 meetings per year made an average of only $3,409 more than those who plan 1 to 25 meetings per year.
Strategic meetings management and outsourcing continue to be significant trends among this group. A little more than half of respondents said they outsource some functions, with sourcing and contracting, registration, and on-site logistics being the most popular ones. Most striking is the growth of SMM within companies, with a little more than two-thirds (67.4 percent) of respondents saying they either already have a program in place or plan to within the next two years.