Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Summary

meeting convention and event planners image
Meeting, convention, and event planners visit venues to ensure they match client specifications.
Quick Facts: Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
2015 Median Pay $46,840 per year
$22.52 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 100,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 9,900

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.

Work Environment

Meeting, convention, and event planners spend time in their offices and onsite at hotels or convention centers. 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 many more hours than usual.

How to Become a Meeting, Convention, or 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.

Pay

The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $46,840 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, 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 meeting and event management, hospitality, or tourism management.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for meeting, convention, and event planners.

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

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

Meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of events and professional meetings. 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 meeting or event
  • Plan the scope of the event, including 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 the client and event attendees are satisfied
  • Review event bills and approve payments

There are millions of meetings and events held each year. Meeting, convention, and event planners organize a variety of these events including weddings, educational conferences, and business conventions. They coordinate every detail of these events, including finances. Before a meeting event, 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 audio/visual equipment. After the meeting, they make sure all vendors are paid and 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 one that requires attendees to meet 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, and they may also organize speakers, entertainment, and activities.

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 usually voluntary, it is important for associations to emphasize the meeting’s value and location; for some association planners, marketing is an important aspect of their work.

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.

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.

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.

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

Healthcare meeting planners specialize in organizing meetings and conferences for allied healthcare professionals. Healthcare meetings have to meet strict standards in order for the meeting to count as continuing education and to comply with government regulations.

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

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

Meeting, convention, and event planners held about 100,000 jobs in 2014. Although most worked for private companies across a wide range of industries, about 20 percent worked for religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations, and another 14 percent worked in accommodation and food service organizations. About 1 in 10 were self-employed.

Meeting, convention, and event planners spend time in their offices and onsite at hotels or convention centers. They may 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. They may also coordinate multiple meetings or events at the same time.

Work Schedules

Most meeting, convention, and event planners work full time. As major events approach, they often work many 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, or Event Planner

Meeting, convention, and event planners
Meeting, convention, and event planners spend a great deal of time choosing venues and negotiating rates.

Applicants usually need a bachelor's degree and 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 have become more complex. Although some colleges offer degree programs in meeting and event management, other common fields of study include hospitality and 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 hospitality or planning experience.

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 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 strategic planning, financial and risk management, facility operations and services, and logistics.

In 2014, the Convention Industry Council created the Certified Meeting Professional-Healthcare (CMP-HC) certification, a CMP specialization related to healthcare industry meeting planners. Planners who want to earn CMP-HC certification must first hold CMP certification and also meet the work and planning requirements specifically in healthcare industry meeting planning.

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 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 offer voluntary certifications in wedding planning, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants. Although not required, the certifications can be helpful in attracting clients and proving knowledge.

Other Experience

It is beneficial for new meeting, convention, and event planners to have experience in hospitality industry jobs. 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 communicate with clients, suppliers, and event staff. They must have excellent written and oral communication skills to convey the needs of their clients effectively.

Composure. Meeting, convention, and event planners often work in a fast-paced environment and must be able to make quick decisions while remaining calm under pressure. When necessary materials do not arrive on schedule, they make alternative arrangements calmly and swiftly.

Interpersonal skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must establish and maintain positive relationships with clients and suppliers. There are often a limited number of vendors in an area which can be used, and they will likely need them for future events.

Negotiation skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must be able to negotiate service contracts 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.

Pay

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Median annual wages, May 2015

Business operations specialists

$64,510

Meeting, convention, and event planners

$46,840

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $46,840 in May 2015. 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 $25,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,050.

Most meeting, convention, and event planners work full time. As major events approach, they often work many 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.

Job Outlook

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Meeting, convention, and event planners

10%

Business operations specialists

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses and organizations become more global in scope, 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 meeting and event management, 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 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. 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.

Employment projections data for meeting, convention, and event planners, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Meeting, convention, and event planners

13-1121 100,000 109,900 10 9,900 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

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 2015 MEDIAN PAY
Administrative services managers

Administrative Services Managers

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 recordkeeping, mail distribution, and office upkeep.

Bachelor's degree $86,110
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 they manage the business to ensure that it is profitable.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,690
fundraisers image

Fundraisers

Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other donations for an organization. They may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization’s work, goals, and financial needs.

Bachelor's degree $52,970
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 $49,720
Travel agents

Travel Agents

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. 

High school diploma or equivalent $35,660

Contacts for More Information

For more information about meeting, convention, and event planners, including information about certification and industry trends, visit

Convention Industry Council

Meeting Professionals International

Professional Convention Management Association

Society of Government Meeting Professionals

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

American Association of Certified Wedding Planners

Association for Wedding Professionals International

Association of Bridal Consultants

Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants

O*NET

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 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 29, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015