How to Become a Meeting and Convention Planner

Meetings and conventions are a major contribution to the success of a variety of businesses and organizations because they bring many different people together for a common purpose. Meeting and convention planners make sure the purpose is achieved and coordinate details of meetings and conventions.

What do a meeting and convention planner do?

Meeting and convention planners plan every detail of meetings and conventions such as location, speakers, printed materials, and audio-visual equipment. They determine the purpose, impression, and message of the organization and they develop a plan for the meeting or convention. They often create a list of many different venues and services and negotiate prices and contracts. They set up the date, accommodations, food and beverages, transportation, and anything else that is needed. They prepare the staff of the organization for the meeting and discuss all of the details. Meeting and convention planners also often oversee the finances and develop and abide by detailed budgets.

What kind of training does a meeting and convention planner need?

Meeting and convention planners have many educational backgrounds such as marketing, communications, public relations, hospitality management, and business. Most employers prefer applicants that have a bachelor degree and many colleges and universities offer bachelor and master degree programs in meetings management. Meeting and convention planners usually complete informal on the job training. They also often complete continuing education courses to remain competitive.

Meeting and convention planners can gain the voluntary Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification through the Convention Industry Council. The requirements include 3 years experience in meeting management, proof of successfully planning meetings, full-time employment in a meeting management organization, and passing an examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a meeting and convention planner?

Employment of meeting and convention planners is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 20% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Job growth will be driven by businesses and organizations increasingly becoming international.

Job prospects are expected to be great especially for meeting and convention planners with advanced education and meeting planning experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace meeting and convention planners that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do meeting and convention planners make?

As of October 2009, meeting and convention planners with less than 1 year experience earned average annual salaries between $29,032 and $42,638. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earned average annual salaries between $35,018 and $47,769 (2).

A career as a meeting and convention planner is a great choice for people interested in helping businesses and organizations achieve their purpose through organized events. Meeting and convention planners must be detail-oriented and have great communication and interpersonal skills. Organizational skills, multi-tasking skills, and ability to handle strict deadlines and stressful situations are essential. They must also have analytic and quantitative skills to create and follow budgets and negotiate contracts.

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