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In March 2021 Future Skills Centre Canada in partnership with Conference Board of Canada, put out an Impact Paper. It stated while the Ontario tourism and hospitality sector employment was down 46% in Q2 2020, compared to 6% for all sectors, occupations in Ontario’s tourism and hospitality industry have, on average, 9-transition options.
Included in the Paper’s top 10 ‘technical and professional occupations with the most transitions, mostly outside the sector’ are conference and event planners.
Optimism and recognition for a profession and skillset often overlooked and undervalued.
The Paper goes on to say any ‘upskilling and retraining efforts should focus on specialised skills and use of specific equipment, tools, and technologies’. This got me thinking about the multiple hats and extraordinary skills that is packed into one job with many titles and generally referred to as ‘event planners’.
Even before the pandemic, event planners (we prefer the title business event professionals) were refining, reskilling, and upskilling their planning tool chest. The technology proliferation was the catalyst then. Since the pandemic, the demand for business and life to continue to function has once again pushed business event professionals to add to their job responsibilities and to adapt a lifelong learning virtual approach.
The truth of the matter is business event professionals’ job has morphed into 4-different jobs.
Let’s look at each of these 4-jobs, in no particular order, a bit closer.
Job #1 – Business Event Designer. Is someone with a focus on content and human interaction and how to measure business event outcomes. S/he has strong business acumen, problem solving skills and understands how to shape and form the content to support and deliver on organisational objectives. They design and implement methods and technology to transform the virtual and hybrid experience of events. S/he provides event content design recommendations and manages the event design budget. An event designer works closely with the executive team, digital business event specialist, and business event professional.
Job #2 – Digital Business Event Specialist. Lives at the intersection of people and technology. Is tech savvy and has a working knowledge of business event objectives. S/he has advance knowledge of digital streaming platforms and can solve problems caused by both software and hardware. They work closely with the business event designer to support content delivery designed with the end-user in mind. S/he is responsible for driving strategy through execution on digital platforms. They have responsibility for planning and budgetary control of all digital event marketing including developing, implementing, and managing social media strategy (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.). They produce post event reports including successes, obstacles, and potential opportunities. A digital business event specialist works with business event carbon accounting to capture its digital carbon footprint and with the business event professional to ensure hybrid event execution is seamless.
Job #3 – Business Event Carbon Accounting. Is an emerging specialty. With organisations moving towards navigating, better controlling, and achieving a negative carbon footprint, to meet international climate goals, there will be a demand for building frameworks and process. This role is for someone with a passion for the sustainability of the environment. S/he has strong analytical and problem-solving skills and the ability to meet tight deadlines and deliverables. They can manage their time effectively, multiple projects, client relations and can identify new opportunities in existing relations. S/he works closely with the business event designer, digital business event specialist and business event professional in order to capture and calculate the event’s carbon footprint across all platforms.
Job #4 – Business Event Professional. Has a deep-rooted passion for planning business travel and hospitality logistics. They use their extraordinary organisational skills and attention to detail to deliver business event travel and hospitality logistics. Business event professionals are great communicators and have strong interpersonal skills. S/he is a human destination Wikipedia with excellent travel and hospitality negotiation and budgeting skills. Technology is no longer an option, it’s a necessity the business event professional has adopted. A qualified business event professional can pivot on a dime and make decisions during unforeseen challenges while smiling and remaining perfectly calm. The business event professional interacts and supports all the other roles mentioned here. The ace up their sleeve and
what makes them so good at what they do is they are, by far, exceptional problem solvers.
The one common specialty skill each job description has, is problem solving. It’s not surprising then that the Impact Paper confirms a business event professionals’ specialised skillset is viable, sought after, and transferrable to other sectors.
In 2007 in M&IT magazine – now Canadian Meetings + Events Expo – I wrote ‘But gaining status as a meeting professional in today’s world requires more than experience, survival, and logistics skills’. Truer words have never been spoken. Today, it requires adapting the knowledge and speciality skills acquired, in a business event professional role, to other occupations and sectors. I believe as destructive as the pandemic is, it is also a catalyst and an opportunity for re-invention.
What skillset can you offer to other occupations and sectors?
Let’s not waste this pandemic. Let’s move from managing the probable to leading the possible. Let’s build a world of tomorrow today. You in??