Meeting and Convention Planners Overview

Meeting and convention planners usually have a variety of educational and work backgrounds. With employment for meeting and convention planners expecting to grow faster, many meeting and convention planners work long hours and may have to travel. Having experience as well as a bachelor’s degree will lead to more job opportunities for meeting and convention planners.

Nature of the Work for Meeting and Convention Planners

Meeting and Convention Planners

Meeting and convention planners work to bring people together for a common purpose. Meeting and convention planners coordinate the details of the meeting, such as the speakers, location, printed materials and audio-visual equipment. Meeting and convention planners start by determining the purpose, message, or impression that the organization wishes to address. Many meeting and convention planners will see if a meeting or convention can meet goals through a virtual format versus a traditional meeting. If the organization chooses to use this virtual format, virtual conferences can be set up over the internet where speakers and attendees can meet online.

Meeting and convention planners are also responsible for searching for meeting sites. Most meeting sites occur in hotels or convention/conference centers. When choosing a site, meeting and convention planners think about airport proximity, attractiveness and the specific organization and message being presented at the site.

When sites have been narrowed down, meeting and convention planners will issue requests for proposals to all the sites they are interested in. The request will outline the need for the space, lodging, food and beverage, telecommunications, transportation and anything else the meeting and convention planners need. Once establishments review the requests and send them back, meeting and convention planners will review proposals and decide if the site will work for the particular organization.

Once meeting and convention planners decide on a location, they begin coordinating with the facility, preparing staff, setting up communication and anything else the location needs.

Meeting and convention planners will also deal with details such as labor and materials and other meeting logistics such as issuing name badges, checking supplies and arranging transportation.

Meeting and convention planners must also deal with financial management, such as negotiating contracts with facilities and suppliers and making sure that correct estimates are made for how many people are going to attend. Meeting and convention planners may also oversee finances and budgets.

Once the meeting is over, it is the job of a meeting and convention planner to measure if and how the meeting’s purpose was achieved. Meeting and convention planners can do this by having attendees fill out surveys with specific questions about the sessions they attended.

Return on investment is important for meeting and convention planners to track the changes in attendees before and after the meeting or convention to see if it was successful or not.

Meeting and convention planners can also consist of corporate planners and government meeting planners, corporate planners working in much smaller time frames and government meeting planners working for Federal, State, or local governments.

Meeting and convention planners usually work in stressful or demanding environments. Due to the fact that meeting and convention planners are constantly faced with the pressures of meeting deadlines and running multiple operations at one time, meeting and convention planners will spend a majority of their time working in their officers or on-site when they have meetings.

Meeting and convention planners will travel on a regular basis, whether to visit prospective meeting sites or whenever they are working for an organization. Meeting and convention planners can either travel regionally or internationally, depending on the organization.

The typical workweek for a meeting and convention planner involves long and irregular hours, sometimes having to work more than 40 hours a week. Meeting and convention planners must sometimes also stand for long hours, carry boxes and materials and do a lot of walking. The job of a meeting and convention planner can involve traveling to luxurious hotels and meeting a lot of people from diverse backgrounds.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Meeting and Convention Planners

Most employers prefer their employees to have a bachelor’s degree. Useful majors for meeting and convention planners are marketing, public relations, business, communication, or hotel management while some schools offer bachelors degrees in meeting management. Many people become meeting and convention planners after working at another position or working in a hotel in sales and marketing positions.

Entry-level meeting and convention planners will start out by being supervised by senior meeting professionals while performing tasks such as assisting in registration or reviewing contracts.

Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential for meeting and convention planners in order to establish and maintain relationships with clients. Quantitative and analytic skills are also important for meeting and convention planners as well as computer skills and organization skills. Those who speak multiple languages will also benefit by being able to communicate internationally. Meeting and convention planners who want to advance in their career must demonstrate skills and determination as well as voluntarily take on more responsibility. Meeting planning courses are also helpful for those entering the work field. Meeting and convention planners can also advance by moving from a small organization to a larger one to take on more responsibilities.

Meeting and convention planners can receive a voluntary certification from the Convention Industry Council offering a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential which can help meeting and convention planners looking to advance in their careers.

Government meeting planners can receive the Certified Government Meeting Professional credential from the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP).

Advancements for meeting and convention planners include becoming independent consultants, vice presidents, or executive directors or starting their own firm.

Top 10 Most Popular Marketing Schools

1. Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad (Carlsbad, California)
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5. University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida)
6. Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
7. DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois)
8. Ohio State University, Columbus (Columbus, Ohio)
9. Texas A & M University (College Station, Texas)
10. Pennsylvania State University, Main Campus (University Park, Pennsylvania)

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Employment and Job Outlook for Meeting and Convention Planners

Number of People in Profession

51,530

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow faster than average (increase 14 - 19%).

Meeting and convention planners with bachelor’s degrees will have the most job opportunities. Those who leave the occupation will also attribute to this job growth. Employment for meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 16 percent due to organizations becoming increasingly international as well as those who value face-to-face time even when there are alternative forms of communication such as email.

There will also be opportunities for freelance and contract meeting and convention planners.

Earnings and Salary for Meeting and Convention Planners

Median annual wages of meeting and convention planners are $44,780. The middle 50 percent earn between $34,770 and $58,140. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $27,550, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $75,160.

Annual Salary for Meeting and Convention Planners

On average, Meeting and Convention Planners earn $44,780 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $27,550/yr $34,770/yr $58,140/yr $75,160/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook