Meeting, convention and event planners arrange all aspects of events and professional gatherings.
What they do
Meeting, convention and event planners arrange meeting locations, transportation, and other details.
Meeting, convention and event planners typically do the following:
- Meet with clients to understand the purpose of the 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
- 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 social and professional events, including weddings, educational conferences, and business conventions. They coordinate every detail of these events, including finances. Before planning a meeting, for example, planners 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.
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 and 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.
Exhibition organizers are responsible for all aspects of planning, promoting, and producing a display. They are also called exhibit managers, show managers, or show organizer.
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 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.
How to become a Meeting, Convention and/or Event Planner
Meeting, convention and event planners typically need a bachelor’s degree. Some experience related to event planning may be helpful.
Meeting, convention and event planners typically need a bachelor’s degree. Although some colleges offer degree programs in meeting and event management, other common fields of study include communications, business management, marketing, and business administration.
Planners who have studied meeting and event management or hospitality management may start out with greater responsibilities than do those from other academic disciplines. Some colleges offer continuing education courses in meeting and event planning.
A number of voluntary certifications are available for meeting and convention planners. Although not required, these certifications demonstrate specific knowledge or professional expertise.
The Events Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential, which is widely recognized in the industry and may help in career advancement. To qualify for the CMP, candidates’ applications must include proof of experience and education. 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 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 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.
The International Association of Exhibitions and Events offers the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation, which demonstrates meeting professional standards for exhibitions and events management. Candidates obtain this credential by completing nine courses.
Some organizations, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, offer certifications in wedding planning that may be helpful for attracting clients.
The median annual wage for meeting, convention and event planners was $50,600 in May 2019. 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 $28,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,390.
Employment of meeting, convention and event planners is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much 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.
Similar Job Titles
Catering Director, Conference Planner, Conference Planning Manager, Conference Services Director, Conference Services Manager, Convention Services Director, Convention Services Manager (CSM), Event Coordinator, Events Manager, Special Events Coordinator, Convention Planner
Advertising and Promotions Manager; Administrative Services Manager; Agent and Business Managers of Artists, Performers and Athletes; Human Resources Specialist; Publication Relations Specialist
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International - The mission of this Association shall be to promote and advance the collegiate conference and events profession and to set the industry standards of excellence.
- Event Service Professionals Association - ESPA is dedicated to elevating the event and convention service profession and to preparing members, through education and networking, for their pivotal role in innovative and successful event execution. Students, check out the information and explore this profession.
- International Live Events Association - ILEA advances the live events industry by creating an inclusive global community dedicated to personal and business development, and inspiration to elevate all professionals engaged in live events.
- International Society of Meeting Planners - ISMP offers both a valuable networking tool and an unrivaled opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of global developments in the meeting planning industry.
- Meeting Professionals International - MPI provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. Their mission is to connect the global meeting and event community to learn, innovate, collaborate and advocate. Student clubs, chapters and forums are available.
- National Association for Catering and Events - This organization is the first non-profit national organization for caterers, event planners and event professionals that provides education, certification and a network of resources for members in all segments of the hospitality industry.
- Professional Convention Management Association - PCMA is the world’s largest and most recognized network of business events strategists. Members are industry leaders.
Magazines and Publications
- PCMA Convene Magazine
- Smart Meetings online Magazine
- Meetings Today
- Black Meetings and Tourism
- Meetings and Conventions
- Trade Show News Network (TSNN)
- Event Marketer
Greeting international conference attendees… keeping presentations on time… or crawling under a table to plug in a projector. From glamour to grit— meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of events to ensure a quality experience. These planners arrange meeting locations, transportation, and other details. They often start by meeting with clients to define the purpose of the event, schedule, preferred location, and the number of expected attendees and budget. It’s their job to obtain bids at competitive prices, and, at the event, ensure details run smoothly. They may also organize speakers, entertainment, and related activities. These planners work for professional associations, convention centers and hotels, in government agencies and corporations, or may specialize in planning weddings or fundraising events for non-profits. Their fast-paced work environment requires keeping calm and making quick decisions. Resourcefulness and good communication are key. Most planners work full time, with many additional hours just before and during events to keep things running smoothly. Applicants usually need a bachelor's degree; a major in tourism management, hospitality, or meeting and event planning is a plus. Some work experience— at a hotel, convention center, or planning events— may be needed. Professional certifications may improve job prospects.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org