Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
|Quick Facts: Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners|
|2017 Median Pay||$48,290 per year
$23.22 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2016||116,700|
|Job Outlook, 2016-26||11% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2016-26||12,700|
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Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Career, Salary and Education Information
What Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Do
Meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of events and professional meetings. They arrange meeting locations, transportation, and other details.
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
Duties of meeting, convention, and event planners
Meeting, convention, and event planners typically do the following:
Meet with clients to understand the purpose of the meeting or event
Plan the scope of the event, including its time, location, and cost
Solicit bids from venues and service providers
Inspect venues to ensure that they meet the client’s requirements
Coordinate event services such as rooms, transportation, and food service
Monitor event activities to ensure that the client and the attendees are satisfied
Review event bills and approve payments
Meeting, convention, and event planners organize a variety of events, including weddings, educational conferences, and business conventions. They coordinate every detail of these events, including finances. Before planning a meeting, for example, planners will meet with clients to estimate attendance and determine the meeting’s purpose. During the event, they handle logistics, such as registering guests and organizing audiovisual equipment. After the meeting, they make sure that all vendors are paid, and they may survey attendees to obtain feedback on the event.
Meeting, convention, and event planners search for potential meeting sites, such as hotels and convention centers. They consider the lodging and services that the facility can provide, how easy it will be for people to get there, and the attractions that the surrounding area has to offer. Planners may also consider whether an online meeting can achieve the same objectives as a meeting that requires attendees to gather in a physical location.
Once a location is selected, planners arrange the meeting space and support services, such as catering and interpreters. They negotiate contracts with suppliers and coordinate plans with the venue’s staff. They may also organize speakers, entertainment, and activities.
The following are examples of types of meeting, convention, and event planners:
Meeting planners plan large meetings for organizations. Healthcare meeting planners specialize in organizing meetings and conferences for healthcare professionals. Corporate planners organize internal business meetings and meetings between businesses. These events may be in person or online, held either within corporate facilities, or offsite to include more people.
Convention planners plan conventions and conferences for organizations. Association planners organize annual conferences and trade shows for professional associations. Convention service managers work for hotels and convention centers. They act as liaisons between the meeting facility and the planners who work for associations, businesses, and governments. They present food service options to outside planners, coordinate special requests, and suggest hotel services that work within a planner’s budget.
Event planners arrange the details of a variety of events. Wedding planners are the most well known, but event planners also coordinate celebrations such as anniversaries, reunions, and other large social events, as well as corporate events, including product launches, galas, and award ceremonies. Nonprofit event planners plan large events with the goal of raising donations for a charity or advocacy organization. Events may include banquets, charity races, and food drives.
Work Environment for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
Meeting, convention, and event planners held about 116,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of meeting, convention, and event planners were as follows:
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations: 19%
Accommodation and food services: 12%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation: 12%
Administrative and support services: 10%
Self-employed workers: 9%
Meeting, convention, and event planners spend time in their offices and at event locations, such as hotels and convention centers. They may travel regularly to attend the events they organize and to visit prospective meeting sites.
The work of meeting, convention, and event planners can be fast paced and demanding. Planners oversee many aspects of an event at the same time and face numerous deadlines, and they may coordinate multiple meetings or events at the same time.
Most meeting, convention, and event planners worked full time in 2016. As major events approach, they often work additional hours to finalize preparations. During meetings or conventions, planners may work on weekends and for more hours than they usually work in a day.
How to Become a Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner
Most meeting, convention, and event planning positions require a bachelor’s degree. Some hospitality industry experience related to event planning is considered valuable for many positions.
Most meeting, convention, and event planners need a bachelor’s degree. Although some colleges offer degree programs in meeting and event management, other common fields of study include communications, business, and business management.
Planners who have studied meeting and event management or hospitality management may start out with greater responsibilities than those from other academic disciplines. Some colleges offer continuing education courses in meeting and event planning.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
The Events Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential, a voluntary certification for meeting and convention planners. Although the CMP is not required, it is widely recognized in the industry and may help in career advancement. To qualify, candidates must have a minimum of 36 months of meeting management experience, recent employment in a meeting management job, and proof of continuing education credits. Those who qualify must then pass an exam that covers topics such as strategic planning, financial and risk management, facility operations and services, and logistics.
The Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) offers the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) designation for meeting planners who work for, or contract with, federal, state, or local government. This certification is not a requirement for those looking to work as a government meeting planner; however, it may be helpful for candidates who want to show that they know government purchasing policies and travel regulations. To qualify, candidates must have worked as a meeting planner for at least 1 year and have been a member of SGMP for 6 months. To become a certified planner, members must take a 3-day course and pass an exam.
Some organizations, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, offer voluntary certifications in wedding planning. Although not required, the certifications can be helpful in attracting clients and proving knowledge.
It can be beneficial for new meeting, convention, and event planners to have some experience in the hospitality industry. Working in a variety of positions at hotels, convention centers, and convention bureaus provides knowledge of how the hospitality industry operates. Other beneficial work experiences include coordinating university or volunteer events and shadowing professionals.
Communication skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners communicate with clients, suppliers, and event staff. They must have excellent written and oral communication skills to convey the needs of their clients effectively.
Interpersonal skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must establish and maintain positive relationships with clients and suppliers. Often, a given area has a limited number of vendors, and meeting, convention, and event planners will likely need them for future events.
Negotiation skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must be able to negotiate service contracts for events. They need to secure quality products and services at reasonable prices for their clients.
Organizational skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must multitask, pay attention to details, and meet tight deadlines in order to provide high-quality meetings. Many meetings are planned more than a year in advance, so long-term thinking is vital.
Problem-solving skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must be able to develop creative solutions that satisfy clients. They must be able to recognize potential problems and identify solutions in advance.
salaries for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $48,290 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,980.
In May 2017, the median annual wages for meeting, convention, and event planners in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
Administrative and support services: $50,720
Religious, grant-making, civic, professional, and similar organizations: $49,990
Accommodation and food services: $44,960
Arts, entertainment, and recreation: $41,230
Job Outlook for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for professionally planned meetings and events is expected to remain steady as businesses and organizations continue to host events regularly.
For organizations with geographically separate offices and members, meetings are the only time they can bring everyone together. Despite the spread of online communication, face-to-face interaction remains important.
Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in meeting and event management, hospitality, or tourism management should have the best job opportunities. Those who have experience in the hospitality industry or with virtual meeting software and social media outlets should also have an advantage.
Job opportunities for corporate planners fluctuate with economic activity. When the economy is in a downturn, companies often cut budgets for meetings.
Employment projections data for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, 2016-2026:
Employment, 2016: 116,700
Projected Employment, 2026: 129,400
Change, 2016-2026: +11%, +12,700
Careers Related to meeting, convention, and event planners
Administrative services managers plan, direct, and coordinate supportive services of an organization. Their specific responsibilities vary, but administrative service managers typically maintain facilities and supervise activities that include record-keeping, mail distribution, and office upkeep.
Floral designers, also called florists, cut and arrange live, dried, and silk flowers and greenery to make decorative displays. They also help customers select flowers, containers, ribbons, and other accessories.
Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants or other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. They direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience, and they manage the business to ensure that it is profitable.
Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization. They also may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization’s work, goals, and financial needs.
Lodging managers ensure that guests on vacation or business travel have a pleasant experience at a hotel, motel, or other types of establishment with accommodations. They also ensure that the establishment is run efficiently and profitably.
Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm