If by some chance the outsourcing question hasn't been asked yet in your company, Maria Capone Goodwin, senior vice president, meeting and event management for Boston-based Fidelity Investments, suggests you practice a bit of preventive medicine anyway. Make your department accountable, and analyze everything your team does to see how you could be doing it more efficiently.

“Regardless of what side of the desk you're on, until you begin treating your job like a business, you're not going to get anywhere in your career,” she said. “You need to ask yourself ‘What do I bring to the bottom line of my company?’ They have to know you exist,” Goodwin says.

Sharing her advice with attendees at the recent New England Meeting Industry Conference and Exposition (NEMICE) in Boston, Goodwin noted with pride that the two in-house meeting departments she started — at Fidelity and Gillette — not only survived tough times, but thrived.

When she joined Fidelity in 1995, Goodwin set up a Web site on the corporate intranet to let people know she was available and what she could do. She presented herself to that internal audience the way she would to an outside company, not only to build confidence in her team's abilities, but because there isn't an internal mandate to use the department. The first event she planned was a retirement party, a step down from the large-scale occasions she was used to running, but it was a starting point.

Fidelity's meeting department now organizes about 300 events per year, sometimes with the help of outside planners. Communication is key to success, Goodwin says, noting that people often don't understand the full scope of a meeting planner's job. She gets her message out to Fidelity executives in a variety of ways, including regular reports customized for each recipient. She also has the members of her department fill out ROI forms at the end of each meeting to show how much was saved through negotiation.

The bottom line to survival? “Get out there and look for ways to save money,” she says.