Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Do[About this section] [To Top]

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

Duties of Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

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 for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners[About this section] [To Top]

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.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner 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[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners near you!

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

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner 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 for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

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.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for meeting, convention, and event planners was $46,490 in May 2014. 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 $25,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,060.

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 for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners[About this section] [To Top]

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.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners 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 Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Meeting, convention, and event planners 100,000 109,900 10 9,900


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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