Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Summary

meeting convention and event planners image
Meeting and event planners visit venues to ensure they match client specifications.
Quick Facts: Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
2012 Median Pay $45,810 per year
$22.02 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 94,200
Job Outlook, 2012-22 33% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 31,300

What Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Do

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

Work Environment

Meeting, convention, and event planners spend most of their time in offices. They also work onsite at hotels or convention centers, and they often travel to attend events and visit prospective meeting sites. During meetings or conventions, planners may work very long hours.

How to Become a Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner

Most meeting, convention, and event planning positions require a bachelor’s degree. Job opportunities should be best for those with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or tourism management.

Pay

The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $45,810 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 33 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. As globalization increases and businesses continue to recognize the value of professionally planned meetings, demand for meetings and events is projected to grow. Job opportunities should be best for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or tourism management.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of meeting, convention, and event planners with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about meeting, convention, and event planners by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

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

Meeting, convention, and event planners
Digital technology is increasingly popular among meeting planners.

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

Duties

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 time, location, and cost
  • Solicit bids from venues and service providers (for example, florists or photographers)
  • 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 the client and event attendees are satisfied
  • Review event bills and approve payment

Whether it is a wedding, educational conference, or business convention, meetings and events bring people together for a common purpose. Meeting, convention, and event planners work to ensure that this purpose is achieved efficiently and seamlessly. They coordinate every detail of events, from beginning to end. Before a meeting, for example, planners will meet with clients to estimate attendance and determine the meeting’s purpose. During the meeting, they handle meeting logistics, such as registering guests and organizing audio/visual equipment for speakers. After the meeting, they may survey attendees to find out how the event was received.

Meeting, convention, and event planners also 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. More recently, planners also consider whether an online meeting can achieve the same objectives as a face-to-face meeting in certain cases.

Once a location is selected, planners arrange the meeting space and support services. For example, providing services such as wheelchair accessibility, interpreters, and other accommodations may be required. They may also negotiate contracts with suppliers to provide meals for attendees and coordinate plans with on-site staff. In addition, they organize speakers, entertainment, and activities. Meeting, convention, and event planners manage the finances of meetings and conventions within a budget set by their clients.

The following are examples of types of meeting, convention, and event planners:

Association planners organize annual conferences and trade shows for professional associations. Because member attendance is often voluntary, marketing the meeting’s value is an important aspect of their work.

Corporate planners organize internal business meetings and meetings between businesses.

Government meeting planners organize meetings for government officials and agencies. Being familiar with government regulations, such as procedures for buying materials and booking hotels, is vital to their work.

Convention service managers help organize major events, as employees of 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 depending on a planner’s budget.

Event planners arrange the details of a variety of events, including weddings and large parties.

Non-profit 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 About this section

Meeting, convention, and event planners
Meeting planners work with clients to determine the scope and purpose of a meeting.

Meeting, convention, and event planners held about 94,200 jobs in 2012. Most worked for private companies; about 1 in 6 were self-employed.                                               

Meeting, convention, and event planners spend most of their time in offices. During meetings and events, they usually work on-site at hotels or convention centers. They travel regularly to attend the events they organize and to visit prospective meeting sites, sometimes in exotic locations around the world. Planners regularly collaborate with clients, hospitality workers, and meeting attendees.

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.

Work Schedules

Most meeting, convention, and event planners work full time. In addition, many are required to work long, irregular hours in the time leading up to a major event. During meetings or conventions, planners may have very long work days. They sometimes work on weekends.

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

Meeting, convention, and event planners
An important part of a meeting planner’s job is choosing venues and negotiating rates.

Applicants usually need a bachelor's degree and, increasingly, some experience related to event planning. 

Education

Many employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree and some work experience in hotels or planning. The proportion of planners with a bachelor's degree is increasing because work responsibilities are becoming more complex and because there are more college degree programs related to hospitality or tourism management. If an applicant’s degree is not related to these fields, employers are likely to require at least 1 to 2 years of related experience.

Meeting, convention, and event planners often come from a variety of academic disciplines. Some related undergraduate majors include marketing, public relations, communications, and business.

Planners who have studied hospitality management may start out with greater responsibilities than those from other academic disciplines. College students may also gain experience by planning meetings for a university club. In addition, some colleges offer continuing education courses in meeting and event planning.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The Convention 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 adult learning, financial management, facilities and services, logistics, and meeting programs.

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 required to work as a government meeting planner; however, it may be helpful for those who want to show that they know government buying 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.

Advancement

Entry-level planners tend to focus on meeting logistics, such as registering guests and organizing audio/visual equipment. Experienced planners manage interpersonal tasks, such as client relations and contract negotiations. With significant experience, meeting, convention, and event planners can become independent consultants.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners communicate with clients, suppliers, and event staff. They must have excellent written and oral communication skills and be able to convey the needs of their clients effectively.

Composure. Planners often work in a fast-paced environment and must be able to make quick decisions while remaining calm under pressure.

Customer-service skills. Planners must understand their clients’ needs. They must act professionally in a variety of situations, know how to keep an audience engaged, and help participants network with peers.   

Interpersonal skills. Planners must be good at establishing and maintaining positive relationships with clients and suppliers.

Negotiation skills. Planners must be able to negotiate service contracts to get good prices for their clients.

Organizational skills. To provide high quality meetings, planners must be detail-oriented and be able to multitask and meet tight deadlines. Many meetings are planned more than a year in advance, so long-term thinking ability is vital. 

Problem-solving skills. When problems arise, planners must be able to come up with creative solutions that satisfy clients.

Pay About this section

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Median annual wages, May 2012

Business and financial operations occupations

$62,500

Meeting, convention, and event planners

$45,810

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $45,810 in May 2012. 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 $26,560, and the top 10 percent earned more than $79,270.

Most meeting, convention, and event planners work full time. In addition, many are required to work long, irregular hours in the time leading up to a major event. During meetings or conventions, planners may have very long work days. They sometimes work on weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Meeting, convention, and event planners

33%

Business and financial operations occupations

13%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 33 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses and organizations become increasingly international, meetings and conventions are expected to become even more important.

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 continues to be preferred by many people.

Job Prospects

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or tourism management should have the best job opportunities. A Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential is also viewed favorably by potential employers. Those who have experience with virtual meeting software and social media outlets also should 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. Planners who work for the healthcare industry are least likely to experience cutbacks during a recession because attendance at healthcare meetings and conventions is often required for medical professionals to maintain their license.

Event planners can expect strong competition for jobs. Those with related work experience should have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for meeting, convention, and event planners, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Meeting, convention, and event planners

13-1121 94,200 125,400 33 31,300 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of meeting, convention, and event planners.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Administrative services managers

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers plan, direct, and coordinate supportive services of an organization. Their specific responsibilities vary by the type of organization and may include keeping records, distributing mail, and planning and maintaining facilities.

Bachelor’s degree $81,080
Food service managers

Food Service Managers

Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. They direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience and the business is profitable.

High school diploma or equivalent $47,960
Lodging managers

Lodging Managers

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.

High school diploma or equivalent $46,810
Travel agents

Travel Agents

Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and admission to entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients. 

High school diploma or equivalent $34,600
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm (visited April 24, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014