IN 2005, corporate planners will continue to face challenges arising from the economic downturn of the past few years.

While Colin Rorrie, president of Meeting Professionals International, is pleased that statistics show corporations have turned a corner and are spending more money on meetings, he acknowledges that “corporations did some downsizing and they outsourced a lot of activity.” Even though more meetings are being planned and implemented, he says this is not necessarily being reflected in meeting departments being re-staffed to handle the load.

“Our members are being asked to do more with less,” he says, adding that the increasing demand for ROI is putting an extra burden on the planner.

Planners will also have to accept the increasing role of corporate procurement officers. “It's a different world out there,” Rorrie says. “More and more meeting activity is coming under the umbrella of procurement officers.” Planners must “learn the language of the new corporate America,” and must be able to demonstrate the strategic value of the meetings they plan and implement.

Rorrie is bullish on MPI's education initiatives, particularly the Career Pathways program scheduled to launch this year. Career Pathways is part of a broader MPI strategic plan to elevate the role of meetings in business. “It's an exciting development for our industry,” he says.