How to Become a Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner
Meeting, convention, and event planners typically need a bachelor's degree.
Most meeting, convention, and event planning positions require a bachelor’s degree. Some hospitality industry experience related to event planning is considered valuable for many positions.
Most meeting, convention, and event planners need a bachelor’s degree. Although some colleges offer degree programs in meeting and event management, other common fields of study include communications, business, and business management.
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 Events 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.
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 a requirement for those looking to work as a government meeting planner; however, it may be helpful for candidates 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, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, offer voluntary certifications in wedding planning. Although not required, the certifications can be helpful in attracting clients and proving knowledge.
It can be beneficial for new meeting, convention, and event planners to have some experience in the hospitality industry. 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.
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.
Interpersonal skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must establish and maintain positive relationships with clients and suppliers. Often, a given area has a limited number of vendors, and meeting, convention, and event planners will likely need them for future events.
Negotiation skills. Meeting, convention, and event planners must be able to negotiate service contracts for 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.