Is meeting and event planning a hospitality, tourism, or business discipline?

If you look at most college/university curriculum programs, you’ll find the courses focused on conference and event planning within hospitality and tourism disciplines. This continues to dumbfound me.

Is meeting and event planning a hospitality, tourism, or business discipline?

Consider the corporate planner planning international partner meetings worldwide. Is that planner in the hospitality or tourism business? I doubt it. That planner must define specific business objectives for the meeting, determine the best location for the meeting and make sure that the meeting meets those business objectives, and budget. That planner must understand the business of the company they are planning the meetings for – whether the planner is an in-house planner or an independent meeting consultant. I sure don’t see this as hospitality and tourism.

A planner uses the resources of the hospitality industry (to find bedrooms, meeting space, food & beverage); resources of the tourism bureaus (to find interesting things to do in the location after the business is completed for the day); resources of the audiovisual industry (to make sure the business of the meeting is visualized and heard appropriately); resources of the airlines industry (to fly people to the destination); resources of local transportation industry (to get attendees from the airport and around the city) and so on.

Ditto for an association planner.

So, why oh why are these programs viewed as part of the hospitality and tourism disciplines? Why aren’t they in the business disciplines? I’d even be ok with the communications discipline (and in the odd college/university, this is finally starting to happen).

Is it the planners’ fault? Up until about 15 years ago, there were no courses to be had. Now they proliferate colleges and universities, certainly in Ontario. Have planners always thought of themselves as making others happy?

hos•pi•tal•i•ty (as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary)

1: generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests: hospitable treatment.
It was refreshing to be met with such hospitality after our long journey.
2: the activity of providing food, drinks, etc. for people who are the guests or customers of an organization — often used before another noun.
a job in the hospitality business/industry – entertaining potential clients in a hospitality suite

Yes, planners offer “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests” – with a clear business objective in mind. The BEICC (Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada) states just that – our conferences/events/meetings are about business, not hospitality, tourism or travel.

So, each time you plan a conference, event, meeting, festival think about the business implications. Lest you think a festival isn’t about business, think again: a festival brings many people into a city or town for the business objective of increasing the economy of that city/town. Again, using the services of the hospitality and tourism industries.

My dream: to have conference/meetings/events programs in the Schools of Business.

Venue & Supplier Profiles