By Megan Powers
Apparently, Cleopatra could have been the world’s first event planner – interesting, right? That’s how long this has been “a thing.” And it was Marie Antoinette who said “Let them eat cake!”… No wonder, it turns out she too was an event planner.
As I prepare to host a lecture at a local university, I thought it was worth looking into what academic programs are out there for event professionals. I feel like I’ve been hearing about more universities adding programs, so I did some research.
Education out there.
It seems we’ve come a long way in terms of educating event professionals. However, when I Googled “event planning education programs,” the top university programs didn’t come up on the first page. When I searched on “hospitality and tourism management university programs” (a mouthful, no?), a few more reputable schools and programs came up, but they should be marketed better.
There are several certification programs provided by our industry associations: Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), Certified Meeting Manager (CMM), Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP), and Digital Event Strategist (DES) to name a few. These are all wonderful, and very well respected within our industry. I wonder, though, how beneficial these are in the “regular world” to advance the visibility of what we do in executing these face-to-face experiences.
The California State University system now has several schools with different programs in hospitality and tourism management. San Diego State University has a very established program for Hospitality & Tourism Management, both on the undergraduate and graduate levels. The options currently in place are Hotel Operations and Management; Restaurant Operations and Management; and Events, Conventions and Attraction Management. While I know they have had sections within courses that involved learning about event technology such as the audio-visual (AV) portion of the show, they only recently added in “tourism technology.”
Technology is not an option.
It’s a requirement! Seriously, it’s one of the most difficult elements of meeting and event planning, and it absolutely should be taught in school and in certification programs as more than a few questions on the exam.
“EventTech” includes everything from AV needs, to project management tools, to apps. AV budgets tend to be equal (or close) to food and beverage budgets — the most expensive elements of most event budgets. It’s especially for this reason that event professionals need to get comfortable with tech.
Wouldn’t it make sense that students in these programs should learn how to manage all of that? They should know what the gear is, and why they may or may not need it in order to read an AV quote appropriately. This will also help them to intentionally design their meetings and events.
Students should learn about the different event technology apps (not just the registration/ticketing and scheduling apps) to be able to determine what types of apps are right for the events they’re involved with after graduation.
They’ll be able to hit the ground running, and impress their new employers with their knowledge of technology.
More and more students are coming to realize they need to learn more of the “what” to use, versus why they need it. They need to get more tactical.
Thankfully, programs like SDSU’s have clued into this, and are now working tech into their curriculum. I have the honor of presenting a 90-minute class next week on event project management. More specifically, I’ll be talking about the strategy of approaching their events more efficiently and strategically using these cloud-based tools. I’ll also be demoing EventCollab so they can get hands-on in using the software.
Undergrads are digital natives, so the concept of managing their events in an online, cloud-based environment should be right up their alley. I’m excited to introduce them to one element of event technology they should be intimately familiar with as they enter the planning profession.
Event & meeting planning and management is a true profession that is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and it’s about time the technology that complements these events is also getting its time in the spotlight!
This blog was reprinted with permission from EventCollab, it originally appeared here.
Header image: Wikipedia.
Megan Powers has wide and deep experience in the meetings and events industry. She’s worked in writing and marketing for tech co’s, in a venue, as a planner, and in audio-visual production sales. All of these experiences give her a unique lens through which she sees and approaches events. Her company Powers of Marketing is a boutique strategic communications agency, providing strategy consultation, content, and execution to companies seeking to strategically market themselves. When she’s not working you’ll find Megan at a sporting event, at a concert, or traveling the world with a high adventure focus!