“Standardise Job Roles to Improve Career Pathways”, says ICE

ICE, the international community of corporate event planners, is calling for the standardisation of industry job roles following its annual member survey, which revealed 91 distinct job titles from 132 planner responses.

From the 91 different member titles, there were nine levels of seniority – from executive and junior manager, through manager and senior manager, director and VP. The range of job descriptions covered events, operations, conferences, engagement, campaigns, and sponsorship.

“This reveals a significant challenge in career development,” says Anita Howard, ICE Strategy Director. “A lack of standardisation confuses professionals about their roles and career progression. This diversity indicates a shortage of structured career pathways, making it hard for professionals to set clear goals for advancement.

“Recognition of expertise becomes complex, hindering the showcasing of unique capabilities. Additionally, non-standardised titles may impede skills transferability across organisations. It also affects tailored professional development opportunities, impacting training and mentorship.”

In response to this challenge, ICE is looking to establish a working group to research the complexities and ambiguities of event industry roles and develop standardised job titles.

“Addressing this standardisation issue is crucial for the sector’s growth, impacting job satisfaction, progression, and the industry’s professional reputation,” Howard continues. “Such standardisation promises to enhance clarity, coherence, and appreciation for the vital contributions of corporate event planners. By undertaking this initiative, we endeavour to bridge the recognition gap between the corporate event sector and stakeholders within the business landscape.”

Other trends revealed by ICE’s annual member survey for 2023 include the continued shift in event formats, the modest size of the majority of in-house teams, an increase in average salaries for key roles, plus the barriers to more sustainable event planning.

Some 95% of respondents reported an increase in face-to-face events over the past year, with only 30% reporting a rise in digital-only activity and 35% reporting an increase in hybrid formats. 

This year, the prevailing trend in corporate in-house event teams is their modest size, with 71% made up of between 1 and 10 employees. While these smaller team sizes offer greater flexibility and agility, they may also necessitate team members taking on a broader range of responsibilities, as well as increased outsourcing to agencies or freelancers.  

Larger in-house event teams are less commonplace, with 16% citing 11-20 employees and 13% citing over 20 team members. In the aftermath of the pandemic, organisations appear to have maintained a streamlined approach to event planning operations.

That said, however, event teams have now become more integrated into marketing operations.

In ICE’s 2022 member survey, 55% of corporate event planners said they sat within the company’s marketing function. This year, that figure is now 71% — signifying a growing recognition of the strategic importance of events in marketing endeavours. 

Among the 18% who selected ‘Other’ when asked ‘Where does your event team sit in your organisation?’, a diverse range of responses emerged.

Some teams identify with departments like Events and Membership, while others are associated with Operations. This diversity in responses underscores the evolving nature of event management roles and their integration across various facets of business operations.

In 2023 meanwhile, the average salary for a Head of Events rose to £81,875 from £79,440. Event Managers also saw a notable increase, with an average salary of £56,250, up from £47,780.

The broader trend of higher salaries in the events industry is in part due to post-Covid staffing shortages and the subsequent cost of living crisis.

When respondents were asked what would drive them to leave their job and seek a new role, unsurprisingly salary increase topped the list at 63%, followed by a lack of career progression at 50%. Other replies included: family commitments and needing more flexibility with work, internal politics and a lack of interesting projects. 

However, half of all respondents are planning to stay in their role for the next 12 months with only 13% saying that they are not, suggesting that the majority of staff are relatively satisfied in their roles.

In terms of more sustainable event planning, respondents reported a range of initiatives including using carbon trackers, replacing printed brochures with QR codes, vegetarian menus as standard, and donating to local charities and food waste.

The foremost hurdle in embracing sustainability in events however remains cost, a concern raised by almost 40% of respondents.

Following closely are constraints in resources and knowledge. Other noteworthy barriers encompass factors like time constraints and lack of stakeholder support.

These findings underscore the complex landscape event professionals must navigate when striving to integrate sustainable practices into their endeavours.

To read the full Annual Corporate Event Planner Research Report 2023 from ICE, register for a copy here.

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