of the Sample
Each year, meeting planners
who are members of PCMA and
an additional group of Convene
meeting-planner subscribers receive an extensive survey, which
requests proprietary information
and budget projections for their
organizations. After answering
an initial question on their professional role, respondents follow one
of three survey routes: one for association meeting professionals and
executives, another for independent meeting professionals, or a third
for corporate meeting professionals. While each response path has
several unique questions, many questions address the same area but
are worded di;erently to re;lect the respondent’s particular role in the
The data that follows was compiled from nearly 300 usable responses
that were submitted. More than one-half of respondents ( 62 percent)
are PCMA members. More than half ( 59 percent) work for an association or nonpro;it organization; 20 percent work for a corporation;
10 percent are independent or self-employed; 4 percent work for
association management ;irms; 5 percent describe their organization
as educational in nature; and 1 percent are employed by the government. Respondents work for associations that are almost evenly split
between international ( 47 percent) and national ( 46 percent) in scope.
Among those respondents not employed by associations, close to one-half ( 46 percent) work for organizations that are international in scope,
while 42 percent work at ones that are national in scope. Close to three
quarters of respondents ( 71 percent) report that less than 10 percent
of their members/constituents are based outside of the United States.
Respondents who are independent planners or work at AMCs are most
likely ( 83 percent) to have a national client base.
The department that respondents report to depends, of course, on
their category and employer. With more than half of respondents
working for associations, 28 percent report to the meetings and events
department. Eleven percent report to the marketing department, and
25 percent of all respondents report to departments other than meetings, marketing, ;inance, or travel.
Eighty percent of respondents say that meeting planning is their
primary job responsibility, and are most likely to hold the position of
manager ( 41 percent) or director ( 28 percent). Three percent are vice
presidents, and 8 percent are CEOs. Not surprisingly, given those titles,
this year’s survey-takers are once again an experienced group, with an
average of 15 years of work experience in the meetings ;ield. Seventy-seven percent of respondents have at least 10 years of meeting-management experience — and more than two-;ifths ( 42 percent) have
20-plus. Given their tenure, these additional respondent demographics
naturally follow: The average age is 46, and more than half ( 63 percent)
have earned an undergraduate degree (with 19 percent having earned
a post-grad degree). Likewise, as industry insiders would surmise, the
vast majority of respondents ( 83 percent) are female.
picked up by organizations has stayed in the 80s.
Meanwhile, the average number of attendees in 2007
was 4,400, while in 2016 it was 5,201. What to make
of these inconsistencies? (See “The Shrinking Room
Block” on p. 61 for more on this.)
Our disclaimer — that our audience continues to
change, so year-over-year comparisons are not scientifically accurate — is definitely a factor here, Lutz
said. He also attributed the lower pickup number
to the trend in shorter and more regional meetings,
resulting in fewer room nights. Plus, he pointed to
other factors: Many attendees may work for corporations requiring a greater degree of compliance with
their travel policies, so they may not be allowed to
book the hotels in the block, and it has become easier
to explore more housing options and find alternatives
outside the block, thanks to meta-search engines.
While Lutz also thinks the sharing economy is having
an impact here, he doesn’t give it a lot of weight.
Nor do most of this year’s survey respondents.
Nearly eight out of 10 said that Airbnb and other
shared accommodation platforms are not big options
considered by their attendees — and only two mentioned the sharing economy as one of their major
industry concerns. Of course, Airbnb hadn’t yet
launched 10 years ago, so it wasn’t even the blip on
the screen many event organizers see it as today.
No survey accurately draws a bead on the state of
an industry if it provides only historical data. As is
our custom in this survey, we asked respondents last
year if they thought the meetings industry was on
the upswing and what they expected for 2017. One
respondent had an interesting response: “Yes, we are
asking more questions.”
We interpret that comment to mean that an
improved economy gives organizers greater flexibility
to innovate and rethink their events. As one respon-
dent nicely summed it up: “I think our industry con-
tinues to evolve and improve every year, and I expect
this trend to continue in the coming years.”;›
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.
Convene’s Meetings Market Survey was prepared for PCMA by Lewis Copulsky,
principal, Lewis&Clark. All material © 2017 by PCMA. Survey analysis by Convene
Editor in Chief Michelle Russell.