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Working As a Conference Planning Manager

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $57,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Conference Planning Manager Do

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

Duties

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.

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How To Become A Conference Planning Manager

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

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

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.

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Highest Conference Planning Manager Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Conference Planning Manager Global Meetings & Incentives Jersey City, NJ Sep 10, 2015 $90,000
Event and Conference Planning Manager Golf Marketing Specialists, Inc. DBA Ascent Performance Group The Woodlands, TX Mar 07, 2015 $48,000
Event and Conference Planning Manager Golf Marketing Specialists, Inc. DBA Ascent Perfor The Woodlands, TX Sep 22, 2012 $48,000
Conference Planning Manager HB Sealing Products, Inc. Clearwater, FL Sep 18, 2013 $43,275

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Top Skills for A Conference Planning Manager

  1. Event Order
  2. Audio Visual
  3. Conference Planning
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared all proposals, contracts and banquet event orders for internal and external clients meetings and conferences.
  • Managed activity and oversaw the daily execution of facility (coordinators, receptionist, audio visual, and conference aides).
  • Acted as primary support person for the Conference Planning Management Team and Administrative duties.
  • Coordinated meeting space, room blocks, food and beverage and special events for executive education programs and conferences.
  • Monitored Customer Service and Efficiency levels of the Business Center Agents through training as needed.

Conference Planning Manager Demographics

Gender

Female

82.8%

Male

8.9%

Unknown

8.3%
Ethnicity

White

62.2%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Black or African American

13.5%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.1%

Portuguese

14.3%

Dutch

14.3%

French

14.3%
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Conference Planning Manager Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

12.3%

Pennsylvania State University

10.5%

College of DuPage

7.0%

Illinois State University

5.3%

Temple University

5.3%

Strayer University

5.3%

East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

5.3%

George Washington University

5.3%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.3%

New York University

3.5%

American University

3.5%

Providence College

3.5%

Georgia State University

3.5%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.5%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

3.5%

Southeast Missouri State University

3.5%

Gordon College

3.5%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.5%

State University of New York Westchester Community College

3.5%

University of Delaware

3.5%
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Majors

Hospitality Management

26.4%

Business

16.8%

Management

6.4%

Health Care Administration

6.4%

Communication

6.4%

Recreation Management

4.8%

Marketing

4.0%

English

4.0%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

2.4%

Political Science

2.4%

Elementary Education

2.4%

Public Relations

2.4%

Social Work

2.4%

Journalism

2.4%

History

2.4%

Psychology

1.6%

Economics

1.6%

Parks And Recreation Management

1.6%

Real Estate

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

62.9%

Other

13.9%

Masters

10.6%

Associate

7.3%

Certificate

5.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020