Know the Difference: Commonly Confused Terms in the Meetings & Events Industry

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By Olivia Orman

There are several factors that go into coordinating impactful, productive meetings and/or events.  Typically, company planners have a fairly set, yet sometimes extensive, list of criteria they must satisfy by partnering with various suppliers.  To correspond with these service providers, it is helpful for planners to be up to speed on key, specialized, and current industry terminology so the planning process can be as smooth and informed as possible.

The subtle variations in terminology appear unimportant in many industries, but in the context of executing successful company functions, these minuscule differences will influence what a planner decides to utilize and how both parties communicate their ideas.  Continue reading to learn the top five most confused terms in the meetings and events industry.

  1. MEEC & MICE

The meetings and events industry is commonly identified using two acronyms: MEEC (Meetings, Expositions, Events, Conventions), and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events).  Though these two acronyms appear to have a subtle difference, planners can use MEEC and MICE interchangeably to convey they are referring to the meetings and events industry.  If a planner is planning an exposition, though, they may consider using the term MEEC over MICE, and if the planner is coordinating an event that offers incentives, such as CEUs (Continuing Education Units), it would make most sense to use the term MICE.

  1. Event Planners vs. Event Coordinators

The most critical distinction companies need to make when hiring third-party meeting and event handlers is to understand the difference between Event Planners and Event Coordinators.  Most companies refer to these contacts as one and the same, but these event associates have their own separate criteria for actualizing the meeting or event.

Event Planners

A third-party Event Planner works directly with the company planner to determine the vision, needs, and budget for the function.  From there, the Event Planner nails down the more visual aspects of the outing.  They assist with selecting a suitable venue, finding a caterer, and acquiring any additional desired services to bring the meeting or event to life.

Event Coordinators

The third-party Event Coordinator oversees and handles the logistical tasks to ensure the event is finalized on time and goes smoothly.  Once the company and third-party Event Planner have determined the vision for the meeting or event, the Event Coordinator brings the idea to life through conducting research, booking the venue and services, and organizing delivery dates.

  1. Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR)

Superimposed reality is a fairly new technology that meeting and event planners can integrate into their conferences, presentations, and conventions for added value and unique portrayal of their ideas and visions.  Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two types of digital realities that bring concepts to life using different types of imagery and projections.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality is a technology that projects a live view of a physical, real-world environment.  AR is the most immersive digital projection, as it delivers a sensory experience beyond sight.  In the meetings and events industry, a vendor, such as an accommodations resort, can attract a company planner to book a teambuilding trip at a venue by giving the company a property tour.  On top of “walking through” the halls and the meeting space, the company using AR would smell and hear what is happening in the building.  One could say it is the most convincing digital illusion.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality is an artificial environment created using a computer-generated simulation of a real, physical, three-dimensional image, body, or place.  VR would be used in the meetings and events industry to convey ideas that do not physically exist in the real world.  For example, if a company is building a property, and wants to illustrate the proposed layout for the venue in 3D, the company would use VR to project this vision at the meeting or event.  And unlike Augmented Reality, VR only transmits information through sight.

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vs. Event Management Software

More software and web solutions are being offered to meeting and event planners than ever so they can effectively and efficiently manage their functions.  Two confused computer programs for staying on top of attendee and event details are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Event Management Software.  Though CRM falls into the category of Event Management Software, Event Management Software serves a different purpose than CRM.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a shared online database that stores thousands of contacts and detailed information. Although mostly used by companies, this system is especially useful for meeting and event planners who coordinate several large events during the year.  CRM helps planners keep track of interactions, event attendance history, and communications with their attendees in an organized way.

Event Management Software

Event Management Software refers to all the computer software and databases a meeting or event planner uses to successfully coordinate and promote their events.  CRM falls into this category, but Event Management Software is the expansive, complete list of the programs and resources the planner uses to stay organized and on track.  Examples of Event Management Software include Eventbrite, Whova, Trello, OpenConf, and Boomset.  These programs contain event promotion, polling, personalized agendas, task lists, and more.

  1. Lectern vs. Podium

The age-old confusion that applies to almost everyone, not just attendees listening to executives speak at meetings and events, is the difference between the lectern and the podium.  The term “lectern” is quintessential to the meetings and events industry, and every company planner needs to know this word to accurately communicate the speaker’s positioning in relation to the attendees.  Additionally, the term “lectern” needs to be known for the sake of correctness.


The lectern is the slant-topped high desk that a speaker stands behind and uses to refer to their presentation notes.  The term “podium” is commonly used in place of lectern.  The lectern can be placed in the middle of the stage or off to one side.


The podium is a raised platform on which a speaker stands during a presentation.  It looks just like a stool, and it ensures attendees has a clear view of the speaker while they are standing behind the lectern.

Verbally Informed Planning

Though the differences between two terms in the same planning category are often overlooked, deliberately using the proper language towards vendors while coordinating the function makes the company planner appear more professional and well-informed.  After all, if two words that had the exact same meaning, there would only be one word to describe that specific concept.  Language can immensely change what we intend to portray, especially when it comes to meetings and events.


Olivia Orman is a contributing writer from St. Louis.

About the author

The MEET® Family of Publications

The MEET® Family of Publications produces regional and national publications that keep corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant industry suppliers, news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their upcoming company function(s).