Embracing the Gig Economy in Meetings & Events

Embracing the Gig Economy in Meetings & Events

During my 13+ years working for meeting planning agencies, what I have found most inspiring is the challenge of designing and delivering solutions to achieve customers’ goals. With a focus on corporate meetings and events, I began to notice a change in what customers actually needed.

What I found in many cases was that they didn’t need an agency. They were not looking for new procedures or interested in working in the structured manner an agency required. Their processes were on point, and their people were, too. They just needed help—immediately and in a specific capacity. They wanted someone else in their corner who could jump in and serve as an extension of their team.

For this reason, many industries have started to turn to the gig economy for talent, elevating the entrepreneurial spirit to an all-time high. Rather than working for a steady paycheck, skilled professionals are working for a specific purpose: to excel with their unique skillsets and live freely as solopreneurs. They’re more inspired. More motivated. More dedicated.

Does this sound like the type of person you want on your team?

Many positions in the meetings and events industry are headed in the direction of the gig economy—and that’s a good thing for everyone involved, from planners and corporate leaders to the talent they hire.

Who is the Gig Worker?

Intuit estimates that gig workers now represent 34 percent of the American workforce, a number CNN Money expects to rise to 43 percent by 2020. “Gigs” are contract, temporary, freelance, remote and positions with similar labels that have become common among recruiters and coveted among candidates. The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) identifies gig workers in four categories:

  • Free agents, who choose independent work as their primary source of income

  • Casual earners seeking supplemental income

  • Reluctants, who rely on independent work as their primary source of income but would rather have a full-time job

  • The financially strapped, who accept independent work simply because they need the money

The persona of the gig worker is not as confined to millennials as you may be inclined to think. Professionals of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels are pursuing gigs. And, according to MGI, those who are doing so by choice (free agents and casual earners) are reporting higher levels of satisfaction with their careers. For a deeper dive into the mindset and lifestyle of a successful gig worker, read this article from Harvard Business Review.

Think Beyond Uber

Ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft are the most prevalent examples of the gig economy (and the oft-overlapping on-demand economy) at play. Drivers are able to make a living contracted by these companies to pick up passengers and take them to their destinations. Driving is the gig. Transportation is the economy.

As large and noteworthy as they have become, Uber, Lyft and ridesharing as a whole only represent a small corner of the gig economy. Independent contractors are thriving—and helping their clients thrive, of course—in other industries such as tech, advertising, creative services, finance, and yes, meetings and events. Websites like Upwork and Toptal, designed to connect companies with contractors, are filled with countless listings daily. Meanwhile, these platforms themselves also appear to be growing and hiring considerably in order to keep up with the demand.

Industry of Opportunity

Let’s make clear that contractors have always been present, particularly in meetings, events, hospitality and tourism. However, their value in the gig economy has evolved dramatically from mere cost-effectiveness to all-around business success.

For example, rather than hire an entire marketing agency, a corporate meeting planner can now hire their own graphic designer, content writer and event strategist directly. Not only do they forego the rigidity of working with another sizable entity, they can build a more cohesive team that truly lives and breathes the brand. They can also turn to contractors for traditional event needs such as hotel sourcing, meeting planning, registration management, operations and production.

Gig workers can and will embrace your culture and immerse themselves in your brand—especially if there is the potential for ongoing work, aka your next events that follow. And being flexible in their workstyle, they are able to adapt to your workflows, tools and protocols with relative ease. Take care of your contractors, and they will take care of you.

Where to Start

Even for a single independent contractor position, it’s undeniably challenging to find the best talent, conduct the interview(s), identify the right fit and manage the relationship (all in the midst of planning your event, of course). That’s why Soundings Connect was formed—to do the legwork and handle the admin for you.

We screen beyond work experience and other surface credentials to connect the right professionals with the right companies in the right situations. It’s more than a job match; it’s a skills match, personality match, needs match, wants match and team match. Through our attention to detail and the connections we build, we’re also empowering entrepreneurs and creating an ecosystem for our industry.

Tracy Judge, MS, CMP
Founder & Chief Connector
Soundings Connect