In early April, events professionals around the world observed Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), an annual celebration focusing on the impact of business meetings, conventions and trade shows on events, a $325 billion industry in the United States. Of 10,000, just 13 of the celebrants with the esteemed Certified Meeting Professional designation (CMP) reside in Arkansas.
Hospitality remains one of the largest industries in the state, generating an annual revenue of $5.6 billion. It is estimated 25% of those dollars can be attributed to meetings and events. Bringing in almost half a million visitors and their dollars along with them, annual events like Bikes, Blues & BBQ, Bentonville Film Festival and the Walmart Shareholders Meeting demonstrate the importance of the industry in Arkansas. The domino effect on local shops, restaurants and attractions helps keep seats, tills and workers’ shifts full.
Event planning can be a lucrative career choice to Arkansans who are starting to navigate the job market or revisiting career aspirations. It’s also attractive for those who want to plan meetings outside the state without relocating to an event hub like Las Vegas or Orlando.
Until recently, those designing events in rural areas were resigned to keeping it local or taking on long commutes to an office in order to work. From clients to venues, there weren’t many options to gain business unless potential meetings were coming into Arkansas. If event planning positions in hotels or convention centers were filled or limited, it meant moving to find a job or pursuing a different path altogether. Staying put in Arkansas and career progression didn’t seem to go hand in hand until now, thanks to technology and progressive thinking in the workplace.