Meeting Mentor Magazine

March 2024

Event Planning Gets Even More Stressful Post-Pandemic

It’s not news that meeting and event planning can be a stressful job — but in today’s post-pandemic world, planner stress levels are shooting up due to increases in the numbers of events they are planning and the tasks they’re being asked to manage.

If you’re feeling extra stressed out these days, you’re in excellent company. In fact, 79% of respondents to a newly released survey by IBTM World that is part of The Culture Creators Report 2023 say their roles are even more stressful than they were before the pandemic upended everything. This result is backed by a study by the World Scholarship Vault, which lists event planner as the third most stressful job in the world for 2023, just behind military service members and home health aide workers.

This may be at least in part because almost three-quarters of event planners say the number of events they have organized has increased since 2019. While that’s bad for planner stress levels, it’s a good thing for today’s work-from-home corporate environment, which has made it more difficult to get everyone on the same page. The IBTM survey found that respondents believe that in-person events not only help bring people together, they also enhance team performance and improve morale.

But without increases in staff to help handle the load, it does get a bit overwhelming at times, respondents said. The increased use of event technology that was the only way to make connections during the pandemic-induced disconnect is now here to stay, which means the majority of respondents say now have to manage all those technological, data and digital-related tasks.

While the job responsibilities and stress are piling up, 90% of event planner respondents say they haven’t seen any corresponding increases in pay. When you factor inflation into the figure, event planners are in many cases actually experiencing a big decrease in real income, even as their job descriptions continue to grow.

Tight budgets also are causing some stress, said the 57% of respondents who tagged tight budgets as one of their biggest challenges right now, even though 61% say they have seen an increase in their budgets since the pandemic. However almost a third say their budgets actually have decreased, and even those who gotten a budget bump are still having a hard time making ends meet with the cost of everything event-related — most notably, food and beverage and AV — still experiencing an outsized hit from inflation even as it eases in non-event-related areas,

“Right now, the thing that scares all of us the most is the continued increase cost,” says Kelly Gallagher, Co-Owner, Canvas Meeting + Incentives, in the report. “I really, really worry that if it keeps happening that clients may start to say, well, then we’re going to do one event instead of two, or we’re going to cut it in half. And that’s not what any of us want to see.”

“It goes without saying that events are back with a bang post-pandemic, and while that often feels like a thing of the past, we are currently experiencing a different epidemic — burnout,” says Nick Nagle, Marketing Manager at IBTM World. “Stress isn’t a new topic for event planners but we’re now working with a backdrop of new challenges. This is undoubtedly taking its toll on the industry, as our data highlights, and we need to do more to support amidst the increased pressures.”

Stress is harmful to emotional health — and it could be bad for event organizers’ bottom lines as well if their in-house planners continue to feel over-stressed and under-supported and decide to look for greener employment pastures. As research from The American Psychological Association points out, up to half of employees who feel undervalued now will be looking for a new position within a year.

“The biggest risk is losing talent,” Jessica Charles, Vice President, Programming and Events, Forbes, says in the report. “People can give up and say, ‘I can’t do this anymore because it’s a very demanding job physically and mentally.’ My biggest concern is losing people that I know are fantastic events people, but they just can’t do it anymore.”

What’s causing you the most professional stress right now? Contact editor Sue Pelletier at sue.pelletier@conferencedirect.com.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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