If you have a knack for planning events and bringing people together, you can turn it into a career as a meeting planner. Meeting planners work in both full-time and freelance positions to plan all aspects of professional meetings and events. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for meeting planners will increase by 44 percent through 2020. Although experience working as a professional event planner is important, many employers want applicants with a bachelor's degree in marketing, hospitality management or a related field. Key skills needed in this field include organization and communication skills. Also, you must be a person who works well under pressure especially preparing large events.
Corporate planners are responsible for organizing business meetings including intimate dinners, trade shows and board meetings. Since these events often take place in an office setting, corporate planners must deal with organizing meetings under tight deadlines. If the meeting is out of the office, the corporate planner, along with support staff, must choose a venue at which to hold the event. Other duties include selecting a caterer, securing a keynote speaker, sending out invitations and handling seating arrangements.
Convention Service Managers
If you enjoy planning high-profile events, consider becoming a convention service manager. They usually work for convention centers, hotels and catering halls. Convention service managers meet with event planners from corporations, organizations, colleges and universities to help them plan events. Depending on the budget, they may provide catering options and handle special requests on behalf of an organization. Convention service managers also provide guidance on choosing decorations and setting up rooms for guests. They may meet with businesses to encourage them to use their venue for future events.
Event planners organize private events such as weddings, birthday parties and baby showers. They are usually not involved with business meetings or conferences. Under the direction of the client, event planners are responsible for a variety of arrangements including choosing a caterer, selecting entertainment, hiring a photographer and preparing decorations. Some event planners also help their clients with creating programs for their events. On the day of an event, clients may also have event planners serve as greeters and seat guests.
Planning events on behalf of a cause or to raise money for an organization is the top priority for association planners. They usually organize annual conferences, trade shows, seminars and fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. Since many nonprofit organizations have tight budgets, association planners usually work with less staff and money to plan events. They tend to also play another role as fundraisers seeking sponsors and donors to help pay for events. Association planners rely more on volunteers to assist in a variety of ways, including greeting guests and preparing gift bags.
Dachell McSween has contributed to the "New York Daily News" and "Black Enterprise Magazine." She also writes for various online publications. McSween received a B.A. in journalism from Pace University and an M.S. in publishing from New York University.