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Event Planner


Chances are, at some point in your life you have organized or helped organize an event. Remember your birthday parties growing up? There must have been some planning involved, such as loot-bag items, guest lists and food. Accordingly, most planned events, especially in the business world, require prior arrangements and preparations. Planning conferences and meetings has become a skilled profession these days.

Conference and meeting planners, also known as event planners organize, coordinate and run conventions and meetings and make sure they function smoothly without any glitches. If a conference takes place out of town or attendees arrive from out of town, the planner often coordinates flights and hotel accommodations for participants.

Event planners are initially hired by a client organization hosting an event that requires the services of a planner. For one reason or another, some companies do not have the time or skills to organize and facilitate a conference, so they hire a professional planner to take care of every last detail. The event planner will work very closely with the client, devising a plan that fits into the budget they have to work with. They advise their clients and come up with a schedule, including speakers, food and location. There will be specific details and questions to decide upon such as hosting a buffet or a sit down meal and if the event take place in a hotel conference room or a church, and so on.

They will suggest using computers for visual presentations to stimulate audience interest and finalize all plans with the client before the event. They may have to pick up multimedia equipment and bring it to the event, along with other items.

Weddings are big business. People are going beyond smaller ceremonies in the family church or synagogue, and a reception back at the bride's parents' house. Elaborate weddings, intricate intimate ceremonies, and receptions that follow strict timetables are now sought after by many couples. Wedding consultants are trained and experienced in wedding productions, and are the people who keep the weddings from derailing. They look after the special day - the marriage is up to the couple.
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  Interests and Skills  
What skills and interests does it take to become an event planner? First, they are excellent oral and written communicators. They can work with people from all walks of life and also sell their ideas to clients and potential clients. They are detail oriented but able to multi-task at the same time. Planners are usually good troubleshooters, always anticipating potential problems and ready to intervene should an unexpected crisis arrive. For example, a caterer may back out at the last minute, therefore they must be able to fix the problem immediately. Finally, event planners are creative thinkers with innovative and unique ideas. They visualize the events ahead of time and carry out some amazing events.

A wedding consultant must be extremely organized, and work well under pressure. Detail-oriented people who have boundless imaginations are also successful in this position. They enjoy working closely with others, and have mature, confident outlooks. They must be open to other cultures and traditions. These individuals must be tactful and diplomatic - they should be skilled in accommodating their client's visions while making necessary suggestions. They are knowledgeable, with excellent memories. They are energetic, driven and resourceful individuals often with an unquenchable romantic spirit.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Identify the objectives of the event and determine the requirements that must be met to accomplish those objectives
  • Meet with sponsors and organizing committees to plan the scope and format of events
  • Establish and monitor budgets and make sure spending does not exceed budgetary allowances
  • Coordinate all services for events, such as accommodation and transportation for participants, catering, displays and centerpieces, audiovisual equipment, printing and security
  • Organize the registration of participants, prepare programs and promotional material, and publicize events
  • Plan entertainment and social gatherings for participants
  • Hire, train and supervise support staff required for events
  • Approve invoices, maintain financial records and prepare reports
  • Market the event and promote sponsorships
  • Event planners do actually work in offices; at least that is where they get their coordinating and paperwork done. They travel around to meet clients and then to the event they run to make sure it is functioning smoothly. They may also have to travel overseas or drive for extended periods of time. The hours can be very long and irregular because some events take place at night and on weekends. Also, right before an event the hours can easily skyrocket. Therefore standard workdays will vary.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Event planners work in both the public and private sectors. Tourism associations, trade and professional associations, festival and event associations, municipal parks and recreation departments, educational institutions, large corporations, convention and conference centers, hotels and conference and event planning companies mainly hire them. Most planners are self-employed and many own their own businesses or co-own businesses with partners.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Many event planners become entrepreneurs and open up their own businesses. They could move into any project management positions or even a public relations career. They can also switch areas and size of planning events and organize concerts, weddings or even work on film sets.

  Educational Paths  
There are no strict educational requirements for event planners. Many community colleges offer diplomas in event and meeting planning as well as hospitality management. There are no specified university programs that focus on event planning, but an undergraduate degree is always helpful.

College or university programs in hotel and restaurant management as well as event planning can provide a student with skills and knowledge in the areas of managing staff as well as coordinating and planning events such as banquets and dances.

Most employers prefer to hire event planners with experience in the coordination and supervision of one or more events with a related college education. Experts suggest volunteering in a planning firm or in a related field. Why not organize a school charity event or dance? Go into the local tourism office and find out if there are any internships or apprenticeships offered.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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