7 November

Conference Planning: The job explained

Conference planners and developers manage all aspects of conferences, meetings and corporate events. They might work with a committee of planners or perform duties independently, but it is this individual's responsibility to oversee the scheduling of activities, transportation, hotels, staff and meeting space, and make sure that everything runs smoothly and company goals are met. Most conference planners and developers work long hours -- especially during conferences -- but are able to travel extensively to attend events and visit prospective meeting sites.

Job Duties

The conference planner and developer's main objective is to create an event experience that not only meets with the company's goals but also runs smoothly and on budget. This includes negotiating hotel and meeting space, arranging for food and audio-visual equipment, and meeting with marketing personnel to develop appropriate event collateral, such as programs, signage and advertising. The planner and developer is in charge of coordinating all activities and speaking engagements, negotiating guest appearances, and planning visitor or spouse activities. The individual is also likely to be expected to travel regularly to scout locations and meet with vendors for future events.

Skills and Qualifications

Because it is the assessment and satisfaction of attendees that dictates the success of an event, this position requires an individual who is exceptionally strong in both customer service and interpersonal skills. Effective communication -- both verbal and written -- are essential, as is the ability to think analytically and make decisions under pressure. A socially perceptive person who enjoys being around lots of people and is able to read the body language of a large crowd would also do well in this type of position. If  you are looking to get Conference planning skills, and an industry and internationally recognised qualification, you should consider the following courses:

Diploma in Conference Planning - Online Distance Learning

Postgraduate Diploma in Conference Planning - Online Distance Learning

Working Conditions

During a typical planning week, conference planners and developers work full-time schedules in offices, collaborating with clients, vendors and event attendees. During meetings and events, the hours tend to get increasingly longer, the pace is much faster, and the duties more demanding as the position moves to an on-site, all-hours office at the hotel or convention hall. Expect to spend a good deal of time traveling, though the distance varies depending on how large a market reach the company employs.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median income for this professional was a little over 45,000. Employment in this field is expected to grow as much as 44 percent through 2020 due to the increasingly international presence of organizations and associations -- and the fact that these conferences and meetings are often the only time members are together.

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