CHICAGO — Event marketing teams are navigating their way through an entirely new post-COVID landscape when it comes to talent acquisition, with challenges including skyrocketing salaries and the demand to work remotely.
During a June 23 webinar presented by the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) Marketing Special Interest Group (SIG), a panel of recruitment experts from the trade show management industry’s top business event firms — Danielle Antes, Director, Talent Acquisition, Emerald; Heather Crovo, VP of HR, Clarion Events North America; and David Herd, Talent Acquisition Manager, Clarion Events North America — shared both challenges and solutions for finding the right types of marketing talent to bring into their event management organizations.
Following are five trends shaping event marketing recruitment right now as discussed during SISO Marketing SIG’s webinar, “The Future of HR & Recruiting for the NEW Marketing Team.”
1. Event marketing teams require a new, more specific skill set than in the past.
“The two biggest changes we’re seeing at Emerald are requests for digital skills and data literacy,” Emerald’s Antes said. “It’s no longer just about being able to conceive and execute a marketing plan but being able to understand what data is coming in and what you do with it from there. These are challenging skills, and that is leading us to looking at other industries to recruit marketers.”
Clarion Event’s Herd said, “A couple of years ago, I would not have known what a digital marketing analyst or a digital database director even were, and now these exist. We need to make sure we’re maximizing the data we have and incorporating it in our marketing.”
2. New hires are demanding to work remotely.
Remote event management hires made up the vast majority of new hires in the first part of 2022. The benefits run both ways, the panelists said. “Remote hiring has been a really great tool for us,” Antes said. “Being able to look at people in other areas of the country, not just cities like New York and L.A., has been huge.”
Clarion Events’ Crovo concurred. “If you can work with leaders to think about how to manage remote teams, there will be so many more candidates open to you and potentially at a lower cost than hiring just those people who can commute to one particular area.”
3. People are commanding higher salaries across the board.
Event companies are finding they must raise salaries to attract talent with the new skill sets they need, and to retain existing employees. “We recruit from a lot of other industries who have increased salaries and we need to keep up with what those increases look like,” Antes said. “We’re also looking for these massively competitive, new, emerging developing skills—but if you haven’t updated your compensation to match that, it’s going to be very difficult.”
4. There’s a growing interest in intangible benefits.
Recruiters have seen many event management applicants, especially from the Generation Z demographic, inquiring about intangible benefits—but they still have a salary limit at the bottom end. “It’s a candidates’ market right now in every industry,” Crovo said. “Remote work has leveled the playing field a bit because you can reach candidates in a much broader way, but it really comes down to the candidate and the role you’re talking about. Different people want different things and, in particular for the younger generation, salary is just as important as culture and work-life balance.”
One way to attract talented event management candidates is to play to the benefits and sense of purpose in event work, and the impact that events can have. “At Clarion, we have 12 portfolios and 50 events, so as soon as they understand what our events are, they get excited,” Herd said. “Once you talk about the travel and how they can work with colleagues at different places across the U.S., that really brings them in. We also have a large marketing team, so that lets them know they’re coming into a company with upward growth, different portfolios and lots to learn.”
5. Marketing the company is essential.
All of the panelists came to the realization that they need to use their internal marketers to attract marketers to the event management organization. “In the past six months, we’ve been on a mission to promote Clarion as a brand out in the market and what it’s like to work here: the different roles and benefits, and sharing videos from events,” Crovo said. “We’re putting that out there and starting to build that brand in a more frequent and consistent way, so that when we’re talking about jobs with candidates from outside the industry who might not understand it fully, there’s a lot more for them to see and touch and feel.”