Want To Be An Event Planner?

There are growing career opportunities in the meeting and event industry. Here's how to get in the door.

A PATH
There are many different jobs within the meeting and event profession. These are some of the most popular:

Corporate Planner: Corporate planners are responsible for managing sales meetings, product introductions and promotions, stockholder meetings, executive retreats, annual meetings, and participation in industry-related trade shows and exhibits.

Association Planner: Association planners work mostly for nonprofits, planning conferences that may include educational tracks, multiple speakers, exhibits, and off-site programs. These planners often develop content to support the organization’s retention and growth objectives.

Trade Show Organizer: Trade show managers oversee revenue-generating events for their sponsors, while trade show coordinators manage their company’s participation in trade shows. Coordinators handle details such as exhibit booths, travel arrangements, and customer entertainment.

Independent Meeting Planner: Independent meeting planners, or consultants, are the fastest-growing segment of meeting professionals. They work on specific projects for corporate, association, or individual clients and sometimes specialize in a particular industry.

Regardless of their title, all meeting professionals need to have certain qualities. Freeman looks for project managers or account executives who are resourceful, responsive, tenacious, ambitious, and principled. It helps if a candidate has the ability to read and understand diagrams and floor plans, as well as calculate figures such as proportions, percentages, area, circumference, and volume.

“Corporate planners are empowered to create the ultimate customer experience,” says Leaf. “[You must have] great communication and organizational skills.” Other winning traits include being personable, energetic, flexible, and easily adaptable. Backgrounds in marketing and accounting are helpful.

WHERE TO FIND WORK
Classifieds: Look under public relations or advertising. But know that corporate planners can be found working in corporate sales/marketing, human resources, marketing communications, or training.

Industry Websites: Check out Meetingjobs.com and The Meeting Connection (www.meetingconnection.com).

INDUSTRY TRENDS:

  • Engagement: “If you pull together a talking head meeting in this day and time, you’re losing the battle,” explains Hill. “The experience has to be quick and positive. It needs to be entertaining and high-tech, because people are looking, listening, and learning.” Creatively structured gatherings are much more conducive for achieving performance goals.
  • Cost reduction: Budgets continue to have the greatest effect on the industry, with 53% of planners citing organizational budget changes as the most impactful operational trend. A FutureWatch report found that meeting and event planners are required to do more with less, which means reducing costs and being more efficient while maintaining the integrity of their meetings.
  • Return on Investment: “Airlines, hotels, transportation, speakers, all the logistics—that’s a huge financial investment. So I want the best return on my investment,” says Hill.

A planner is required to demonstrate exactly how meetings are driving value into the organization. “It’s not enough to say the attendees had a good time. You have to ask ‘Did we increase productivity in some way?’ You can have a brilliantly planned meeting, but when you can evolve past logistics and focus on strategies, that’s when you have a win-win,” Schulz explains.

An MPI Foundation/George P. Johnson survey revealed that 51% of companies perceiving past ROI success expect to increase their event marketing budgets.

Security and risk management: “Prior to 9-11, security was one

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