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What Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Do About this section

Meeting, convention, and event planners
Meeting, convention, and event planners meet with clients to understand the purpose of their meeting or event.

Meeting, convention, and event planners arrange all aspects of events and professional gatherings. They arrange meeting locations, transportation, and other details.

Duties

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.

Work Environment About this section

Meeting, convention, and event planners
Meeting, convention, and event planners regularly collaborate with clients, hospitality workers, and meeting attendees.

Meeting, convention, and event planners held about 138,600 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of meeting, convention, and event planners were as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 19%
Accommodation and food services 11
Administrative and support services 10
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 10
Self-employed workers 5

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.

Work Schedules

Most meeting, convention, and event planners work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. They often work additional hours to finalize preparations as major events approach. During meetings or conventions, planners may work on weekends.

How to Become a Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner About this section

Meeting, convention, and event planners
Meeting, convention, and event planners typically need a bachelor's degree.

Meeting, convention, and event planners typically need a bachelor’s degree. Some experience related to event planning may be helpful.

Education

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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.

Other Experience

Meeting, convention, and event planners may benefit from having some experience in meeting and event planning. 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.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners exchange information with clients, suppliers, and event staff. They must have excellent written and oral communication skills to express the needs of their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must establish and maintain positive relationships with clients and suppliers.

Negotiation skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must be able 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.

Problem-solving skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must be able to anticipate potential issues and prepare creative solutions that satisfy clients.

Pay About this section

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Median annual wages, May 2020

Business operations specialists

$71,450

Meeting, convention, and event planners

$51,560

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $51,560 in May 2020. 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 $29,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,360.

In May 2020, 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 $53,980
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 53,220
Accommodation and food services 44,540
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 44,310

Most meeting, convention, and event planners work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. They often work additional hours to finalize preparations as major events approach. During meetings or conventions, planners may work on weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Meeting, convention, and event planners

8%

Business operations specialists

6%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

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.

Job Prospects

About 15,200 openings for meeting, convention, and event planners are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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.

Employment projections data for meeting, convention, and event planners, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Meeting, convention, and event planners

13-1121 138,600 149,500 8 10,800 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about professional planning for meetings, conventions, exhibitions, and events, including information about certification and industry trends, visit

Events Industry Council

International Association of Exhibitions and Events

Society of Government Meeting Professionals

For more information about wedding planners, including information about certification, visit

American Association of Certified Wedding Planners

Association of Bridal Consultants

Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants

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Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

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