Meeting planning is second only to executive management as a key function of associations, according to the 2005 Association CEO Survey released by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).
When asked to identify functions important to the mission and revenue of their organizations, 96.7 percent of CEOs ranked meetings/events as “important” or “very important.” This ranked ahead of numerous other functions, including membership development, education, communications, publications, legislative/regulatory affairs, and others.
The average number of meetings and events held by the associations represented by these CEOs was 15.9. Conferences, meetings, and trade shows are important revenue producers for associations, generating more than 40 percent of revenue for the associations surveyed. Nearly 30 cents of every revenue dollar came from conferences and meetings, and trade shows generated nearly 12 cents of every dollar. More than four of five CEOs (84.6 percent) confirmed that conferences, meetings, events and trade shows produced net revenue.
The skills that association CEOs considered most important in a senior meeting planner were meeting logistics/coordination, budgeting/financial management, contracting/negotiation, and leadership.
“Nearly every association relies heavily on meetings and events to support its mission, and we’re pleased to see this reflected in the survey results,” says PCMA Chairman Gregg H. Talley, CAE. “The results also show that meeting professionals are highly rated and valued for their expertise in a number of critical areas.”
The survey showed that just over two-thirds of association CEOs (67.8 percent) identify strategic planning as an important or very important skill. Sixty-six percent of CEOs were satisfied or very satisfied with the skills of senior meeting planners in this area.
“Because of the importance of meetings, it is inevitable that meeting professionals will be called on more and more to become involved in strategic planning,” Talley observes.
PCMA also asked association CEOs to identify the most important characteristics they sought in a meeting planner. Good organizational skills, negotiating ability, calmness under pressure, attention to detail, and competency in core areas of meeting planning were common responses.
A total of 269 chief staff executives of trade and professional associations and foundations responded to the survey, which was conducted in late 2004 by Association Research, Inc., and funded by the PCMA Education Foundation.