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Women in Meeting Planning: Tips and Stories from the Planner Herself

Did you know? More than 77 percent of the country’s meeting, convention, and event planners are women, and many industry groups continue to do their part to empower women (Phocuswright).

After working in hotels, a state association in Austin, Texas, and a major meetings & incentives company in Minneapolis, Caytie Pohlen-LaClare founded The LaClare Group in 1997. Her goal was to bring more meetings and events to life – literally and figuratively. Over the years, she has created a team of, and partnered with, some amazing women (and men) in the meetings and events industry.

In this blog post, we will cover:

What Types of Careers are Available in the Meetings and Events industry?

The industry of meetings and events continues to grow every year. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 18 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.” Therefore, the job opportunities in the industry are plentiful and the organizations are cover every side of the planning pie.

Examples of Available Positions in the Meetings and Events Industry:

  • Venues where meetings are held: including hotels, event centers and convention centers

  • Corporations – often have a team of planners on their staff

  • Associations – at the state, national, and international levels

  • Non-profit Organizations

  • Third-party Companies –who provide services to individuals and organizations and work on behalf of their clients.

As you can see, there are a wide range of companies that value the experience and knowledge professional meeting people have. It truly is so much more than “ordering food.”

The LaClare Group is considered a “third-party company” and we specialize in meeting strategy and event logistics management. Over the years we have worked with clients from many different industries. However, our strength and expertise is with companies in the medical device and life science fields.

How Do You Get Started in the Meetings and Events Industry?

Some people know from the beginning that they want to work in this industry, so they focus on their education and work hard to gain experience in this area. And many others fall into this industry through a chance opportunity or job experience.

Here are a few statements from women in the Meeting and Event Planning Industry on how they first got started in their careers:

Marketing and Media Specialist, Jenna Grochow

Jenna Grochow, Marketing & Media Specialist, The LaClare Group: 

I was fresh out of college and looking for a job. My background was in Creative Digital Media and Film Studies. When searching online, I found The LaClare Group needed an Administrative Coordinator to add to the team. This role was to support the meeting planners and work on social media marketing strategies. Since accepting the position, I was promoted to Marketing & Media Specialist for the company. I have learned so much about the industry and continue to grow by experiencing it firsthand. Currently, in my position, I work on registration websites, virtual meetings, reporting, email communications, and social media marketing as well as assist where else is needed. 

Senior Project Manager, Sara Memmen

Sara Memmen, Senior Project Manager, The LaClare Group:

I stumbled into the meetings and events industry when I was graduating from college and in search of a job. My political science degree was not very applicable to the real world, but I quickly learned that the soft skills learned from my liberal arts degree transferred well to the meetings and events industry. Clear, concise communication, attention to detail when managing tasks, planning ahead to meet deadlines and goals, and managing competing tasks were all things I was managing in college that helped me tremendously as I learned the ins and outs of the industry.

My first role was Project Coordinator, providing administrative support to the senior planners as I learned the industry. I was very lucky to have a colleague who took me under her wing to not only teach me the industry, but professionalism and business etiquette. It would have taken me a long time to learn what she taught me on my own – thank you Jessie! After a few years I applied the things I learned as a Project Coordinator to a job in political campaigns, and association management. Currently, I am back at The LaClare Group working as a Senior Project Manager, working primarily with our medical device clients.

Challenges in the Industry (and How to Overcome Them)

Every job, career path, company, and business industry has their ups and downs, pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. Often, it’s the challenges we face which lead to growth. In the meetings and events industry, unexpected surprises occur all the time. The key is utilizing the skills--both learned and innate—and the past experiences, plus controlled reactions that can take a meeting from potential disaster to successful outcome.

Here’s a perspective on industry challenges:

Senior Project Manager, Sara Memmen

Sara Memmen, Senior Project Manager, The LaClare Group:

Right now, the biggest challenge I am facing in the industry is staffing. The flight of people who left the industry after 2020 has left vendors understaffed and the individuals who are left are stretched so thin things easily fall through the cracks. Hotels, booking agents, restaurants, transportation companies, and more are all facing these challenges through no fault of their own. I have had to double down on my attention to detail and clear communication to ensure that events run smoothly. This looks like double and triple checking things like rooming lists, transportation manifests, and BEOs. It takes more time during the planning process, which can be a challenge in and of itself, but I have caught so many things ahead of time that have made things go more smoothly when onsite. I believe this is an issue we will all continue to face for a few more years as the industry continues to come back from the effects of Covid.

What the Future Holds for Meetings and Events

Meetings and events have evolved over the last 20+ years. The pandemic produced a spike in changes and innovations. As technology advances, we’ve created and adapted better systems to plan in-person meetings and added virtual meetings in a big way. So, what does the future hold for meetings and events?

Here is what a few women in the industry think about the future of meetings and events:

Senior Project Manager, Sara Memmen

Sara Memmen, Senior Project Manager, The LaClare Group:

While the peaks of Covid may be over, I think the future of the industry will continue to see more hybrid events. Hybrid events provide the benefit of in-person interactions for those who miss it, while simultaneously providing the comforts of virtual attendance for those who have come to depend on it. I don’t see virtual components to events going anywhere.

Founder and President of The LaClare Group, Caytie Pohlen-LaClare

Caytie Pohlen-LaClare, Founder and President, The LaClare Group:

I am amazed at the changes that have happened within our industry, especially in the last 2-3 years. Some old ways of planning have either fallen away or been streamlined with the help of software.

One of the key takeaways from the pandemic is how important in-person meetings are to us as human beings. There’s no replacing the face-to-face interactions and new relationships that come from that. AND at the same time, we have seen the value and opportunity in virtual meetings. Allowing access to a wider audience who may not be able to attend otherwise.

Moving forward, I think we will see more meetings utilizing both aspects to round out the experience, education, and entertainment people have. Attendance is increasing in both areas.

Another exciting development is with food and beverage. We are seeing much more locally sourced items, more healthy options, and more creativity in menus. It helps that most people are exposed to more types of foods from different countries and cultures.

As you can see, from the meeting planner herself, that the opportunities in meetings and events are endless. Though it may come with challenges, there are ways to overcome and continue to get better what we do, which is deliver a fantastic experience for our clients and attendees.

We are happy to have the opportunity to share some of our experiences in celebration of Women's History Month. Our expertise is in planning and operating multi-day events. We handle it all, from finding the perfect location and negotiating contracts in your best interest to managing the online registration process and delivering a well-executed meeting, on budget.

Let's connect! Whether you need assistance planning your next meeting or wanting to learn more about getting into the meetings and events industry, send us a message at We are happy to help!


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