The Great Shift
Meetings and events enter the world of academia.
Meetings, no matter at what level, have a major influence on government, business and organizations. The hospitality, meetings and travel industries are multi-billion dollar industries that only recently, yet rapidly, have realized their clout as major contributors to the U.S. economy and matured beyond the umbrella of tourism or “visitor” business. Alongside that change, the expectations for meeting and event professionals have grown.
Challenged with educating future generations, meeting membership organizations are reevaluating and upgrading course content and certification requirements. Many faith-based meeting planners fell into their roles accidentally, but they’ve realized the importance of career training and advancement. Some make the decision to get into the industry early in their careers. Universities are developing educational material on the intrinsic value of meetings and events in business. There are now advocates for the concept that students majoring in business at institutes of higher learning should be required to take an elective, special course or a minor in event management.
Where does the discipline of meetings and events belong in the contemporary academic curriculum and why? A little more than two decades ago, virtually any courses of study relevant to people in our industry were offered in the newly formed hospitality or tourism departments (the latter of which owed their name, their focus and their existence to the word “tourism” and its supposed ability to pull revenue into a given city)—or within some part of facilities management instruction. For many in the academic world, this is how courses of study on meeting and events are still understood: as footnotes to subjects like facilities management, as elements of other business-driven course offerings such as sports marketing or tourism, or perhaps as community college material in narrowly defined areas such as social and wedding planning.
In recent years, meetings and events have emerged as powerful tools for strategic messaging; public relations, marketing and advertising play a more important role. Clearly, well-planned, well-executed, well-branded events are having an impact on the bottom-line, forcing academic institutions to reassess their course offerings. Considering the glacial speed at which any kind of structural change tends to unfold within long-established academic silos, the shift that has taken place during the past decade has been remarkably fast, and is accelerating. There has been a real reassessment of the business case for meetings and events as an academic discipline in its own right. What follows are some of the most interesting voices and intriguing insights from the emerging academic discussion on how, where and why to teach people to become meetings and events professionals.
“The Great Shift” is the second article in our Rethinking Meetings series. In future issues, we’ll explore change as it affects the design of convention and conference centers, hotels, seating and setups, production and programs, food and beverage, travel and every other aspect of what we do in connection with events. We invite you to think about how you can use concepts presented in this series, discuss them with your teams and organizations, and share your insights with us. Email email@example.com or add your comments on our wall.