Conference and event planners (NOC 1226)

About this job

Conference and event planners plan, organize and coordinate conferences, conventions, meetings, seminars, exhibitions, trade shows, festivals and other events.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • are employed by tourism associations, trade and professional associations, convention and conference centres, governments, and by conference and event planning companies, or may be self-employed
  • often work in large convention or accommodation facilities such as hotels
  • work with many people, often under pressure
  • respond carefully in difficult circumstances
  • are detail-oriented, have excellent social skills and are able to multi-task and respond quickly to unexpected situations

This can be an exciting field to work in, as it provides variety in terms of events, activities and locations, as well as an opportunity to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Common job titles
  • officer, convention planning services
  • organizer, festival / trade show
  • planner, special event / meetings
  • officer, convention planning services
  • organizer, festival / trade show
  • planner, special event / meetings

Duties

Conference and event planners perform some or all of the following duties:

  • meet with trade and professional associations and other groups to promote and discuss conference, convention and trade show services
  • meet with sponsors and organizing committees to plan the scope and concept of events, to establish and monitor budgets and to review administrative procedures and progress of events
  • coordinate services for events, such as accommodation and transportation for participants
  • ensure the conference centre or other facility can meet needs for catering, signage, displays, translation, special-needs requirements, audio-visual equipment, printing and security
  • plan entertainment and social gatherings for participants
  • organize registration of participants, prepare programs and promotional material, and publicize events
  • hire, train and supervise support staff required for events
  • ensure events run smoothly and trouble-shoot any problems that may arise
  • ensure compliance with required by-laws
  • negotiate contracts for services, approve suppliers' invoices, maintain financial records, review final billing submitted to clients for events, and prepare reports

Work environment

Planners may work from an office; however, much of the work is performed on-site at hotels, convention centres or other event locations. Planners may also visit suppliers of conference materials (such as audio-visual gear).

Weekend and evening work is common and planners often work long hours prior to and during events. Work in this field can be seasonal for festival planners, whose events tend to be concentrated in the summer months.

Planners are increasingly using event planning software, performing duties through tools such as webinars, virtual conferences and podcasts, and using the Internet to access information and must be able to adapt to new technologies that may be used in their day to day work.

Insights from industry

The majority of job openings in this occupational group are expected to come from retirements.

British Columbia has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination, both domestically and internationally. This will improve demand for workers in this occupation, as the desirability to use sites within B.C. increases. New conference facilities (i.e. the Vancouver Convention Centre) are also increasing the capacity of the province to host large events. As well, the business services sector is also growing as more companies and organizations contract experts for specific tasks, such as meeting and conference planning.

Industry sources report that demand for workers in this occupation is linked to the general economy, and that increased demand may be in response to more positive economic conditions. As well, on a smaller scale, it is reported that new trends in the use of on-line meetings may affect smaller meetings and conferences by reducing the need for planners.

Competition for employment in this field will likely be strong due to the desirable nature of this work.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates typically find work as event coordinator assistants, junior meeting planners in a hotel and catering assistants. Conference planners who have gained experience managing a wide range of activities are qualified for a range of administrative and managerial tasks as senior planners, team managers or directors of sales.

With experience, it is possible to move up to related positions in marketing or hospitality management or to progress to managing larger events.

Additional resources