Meetings Industry Insights

Meetings Industry

Members are professionals who plan and/or implement a large spectrum of meetings, conferences, trade shows and suppliers who provide facilities and services for those events.

Industry Facts

  • More than 96% of meeting planners use technology for marketing their meetings and 56% in the production and educational instruction of meetings. Planners will use controlled multi-media: LCD panels, on-line registration, CD-ROM, Internet, video- and audio-conferencing, and “virtual communities” (source: MPI Speaker & Forum Facilitator Manual 2001).
  • Technology is still by far the largest anticipated change in the industry. Other changes appearing over the next two years include: Educational topics and format, sponsorships, pricing structure, and duration of time for meetings. Planners anticipate 6% more use of online booking/planning tools in 2004.
  • Forty-six percent (46%) of planners are women. (76% of MPI members are women)

Magnitude of the Meetings Industry

  • Travel and Tourism industry encompassing meetings, conventions, expositions and incentives generated an estimated $1.3 trillion in 2002.
  • Meetings are an integral part of every business. They are vital to business development as a source of education, communications and relationship development. The industry affects jobs, economies and productivity at the local, national and international level.
  • Travel and entertainment is the third largest controllable expense, and meetings, unless well managed, are the largest invisible source of loss in most organizations. Poorly planned and executed meetings increase loss margins. ROI is the name of the game.
  • Travel and tourism provides 6.69 million direct jobs in the U.S. economy resulting in $1.3 trillion in the US. Travel and tourism provides more than 684,000 executive level positions (Travel Industry Association of America). Specifically, the convention, exposition, meeting and incentive travel industry directly supported an estimated 1,574,000 full-time employment jobs in the U.S. during 1994 (1995 Convention Liaison Council Economic Impact Study).Note: The meetings industry is very lucrative ONLY if you are ready and have the right topic; careers have been destroyed if presented prematurely. Some topics and speakers are not appropriate for this group.
  • Greatest trends affecting the industry are: overall economic uncertainty, downsizing and shorter lead times. Planners expect lead-time for bookings to be 4% shorter in 2004. Planners anticipate a 6% increase in the number of meetings held in 2004 compared to 2003. According to Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, people are seeking motivation and inspiration, and they attend meetings to build big-picture inspirational experiences.
  • Most meeting industry local chapters are looking for speakers who are willing to barter. Some will have monies for fees but most will want you to showcase. (Contact the Directors or VP of Programs of each chapter by phone or email) Search for the local MPI chapter web sites for contact information. (See NSA’s website under “Knowledge Bank” and then choose “Meeting Industry Links” for a list of many meeting industry organizations links).


  • Must have “First Class” materials: (very special)
    • Promo kit with video/audio cassettes/CD Rom
    • Books/articles
    • Brochure/one pager
    • Client questionnaire
    • Web site/videostreaming
    • References

    Bureaus: Must have one sheet, video/CD Rom/videostreaming, picture, testimonial letters, books

  • Do not send anything unsolicited; we do not have the time to weed through materials; some prefer CDs or websites; some prefer to preview in person; always nice to have referrals.


  • Commission structures vary from bureau to bureau; standard 25-30% for keynotes
    products      training      spin-offs
  • Typically, bureaus will ask clients for 50% deposit to be held in escrow and remaining balance due 7 days prior to the event. Your fee is paid on or after the event.
  • Reasonable expenses – round trip, air fare for one, one night’s lodging direct-billed to client’s account, ground transportation, meals, tips, and any other expense necessary for the speaker’s trip pertaining to the event.
  • Bureau Lagniappe:
    • Be sure to return phone calls promptly; bureaus are under time crunches
    • Bureaus may ask you to assist in closing the sale
    • Be sure to notify bureau of your flight itinerary/any changes
    • Be sure to call the client & bureau when arriving on site
    • Be sure bureau has your cell phone/pager in case of emergencies
    • Always ask the bureau if this is a good time to talk
    • Be sure bureau has your biographical information AND standard introduction
  • Checkout bureaus…there are good ones and not so good ones; do your homework!
  • Go to GSI’s web site: for “Seven Myths about Speaker Bureaus
  • Go to NSA’s web site for Bureau Speaker Guidelines developed by Speaker & Bureau task force.

Keys to Success

  • Connection
  • Commitment
  • Contribution
  • Trust
  • Involvement
  • Expertise
  • Marketing
  • Tools

Call 1.800.787.2840 (tollfree) or 972.513.0054 to start your successful speaker search today.


About the Author:

Betty E. Garrett
Betty is a leader in Meeting Professionals International, having served as chapter president, and was the recipient of the Marion Kershner Memorial Leadership Award by MPI. The National Speakers Association named her the Partner of the Year, and she has helped many speakers gain momentum on the speaking circuit.