Conference & Event Planners (NOC 1226) may also be called:
- conference and meeting planner
- conference planner
- convention co-ordinator
- festival organizer
- meeting planner
- event planner
- event organizer/ special events organizer
What Would I Do?
Conference & event planners plan, organize and coordinate conferences, conventions, meetings, seminars, exhibitions, trade shows, festivals and other events. As a conference & event planner, your duties can include:
- meeting with trade / professional associations and other groups to promote and discuss conference, convention and trade show services
- meeting with sponsors and organizing committees to plan scope and format of events, establish and monitor budgets and review progress of events
- co-coordinating services for events, such as accommodation and transportation for participants, facilities, catering, signage, displays, translation, special needs requirements, audio-visual equipment, printing and security
- organizing registration of participants, prepare programs and promotional material, and publicize events
- planning entertainment and social gatherings for participants
- ensuring the conference centre or other facility can meet needs for catering, signage, displays, translation, special-needs requirements, audio-visual equipment, printing and security
- ensuring compliance with required local by-laws
- negotiating contracts for services, approve suppliers’ invoices, maintain financial records, review final billing submitted to clients for events and prepare reports.
Am I Suited For This Job?
You should be:
You should have:
- excellent social skills
- strong communication skills
- ability to multi-task and respond quickly to unexpected situations
- strong customer service skills
Conference & Event Planners often work long hours, including evenings and weekends. They may work from an office; however, much of the work is performed on-site at hotels, convention centres or other event locations.
What Are The Wages And Benefits?
In British Columbia, the median annual salary for conference & event planners is $46,634. JobBank Canada provides the following hourly wages in BC’s regions:
Table from Job Bank Wage Report
Earnings for conference & event planners vary widely, depending on experience, education, geographic location, and whether they work full-time or part-time. Some types of event planning are more lucrative than others. Corporate event planners, tend to earn more than those who plan events for private individuals.
Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising
What Is The Job Outlook In BC?
The majority of job openings are expected to come from retirements. British Columbia has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination and this will improve demand for workers in this occupation. New conference facilities (i.e. the Vancouver Convention Centre) are also increasing the capacity of the province to host large events. Industry sources report increased demand for workers may be in response to more positive economic conditions. Competition for employment in this field will likely be strong due to the desirable nature of this work.
The forecasted average annual employment growth rate is 1.4% for 2016 – 2020 and then 1.2% from 2020 until 2025. The majority of employment and growth is in the Lower Mainland / Southwest BC (1.4% average annual employment growth) and the Vancouver Island / Coast region (1.6% average annual employment growth.)
JobBank Canada predicts that the employment outlook will be good for Conference and event planners (NOC 1226) in British Columbia for the 2017-2019 period. Employment growth will lead to new positions. Positions will become available due to retirements.
Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising
How Do I Become a Conference & Event Planner?
Conference & event planners do not require certification in BC. However, certification related to special events, meetings or conference management can provide better employment opportunities. See for example:
- CMP – ‘Certified Meeting Professional’ designation awarded by Events Industry Council
- CEM – ‘Certified In Exposition Management’ awarded by CAEM (Canadian Association of Exposition Management)
Minimum requirements to be a conference & event planner include:
- university degree or college diploma in business, tourism or hospitality administration is usually required.
- several years of experience in hospitality, tourism administration, public relations or in a comparable position at a conference centre or hotel are usually required and *may* substitute for formal education requirements.
For further information, see:
- Events Industry Council (responsible for Certified Meeting Professional CMP designation)
- MPI, BC Chapter (Meeting Professionals International), Certification as CMP
How Do I Find A Job?
Where would I work?
Conference & Event Planners work in:
- tourism associations
- trade and professional associations
- convention and conference centres
- conference and event planning companies
- large hotels/resorts
- large companies that stage events for their staff or clients
- may also be self-employed
Finding Advertised Jobs
Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.
You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.
Job White Pages
- Available online or in print at the Central Library
Available from the VPL Digital Library
Access at VPL locations only
Online Job Postings
- American Marketing Association, BC Chapter (BCAMA), Job Board(search for ‘conference planner’ or ‘event planner’ or ‘event organizer’)
(job board for tourism and hospitality jobs in BC)
- Sport Information Research Centre, SIRC
(job board for sports related administration careers in Canada) search for ‘Events’
(search for ‘event planner’ or ‘conference planner’)
- BC JobConnect
**must have permanent resident number**
newcomers can post their skills, education and work experience to BC employers looking for workers
Also look for postings of ‘event planners/conference planners/event organizers’ in the ‘careers’ or ‘jobs’ section of websites for these industries:
- large hotels
- tourist destinations (e.g. Grouse Mountain, Whistler)
- conference centres (e.g. Vancouver Convention Centre, Anvil Centre, Whistler Convention Centre)
- large local sports teams (e.g. Vancouver Canucks)
- private clubs or golf & country clubs
Finding “Hidden Jobs”
Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.
Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers
You can use directories to produce lists of employers in this industry. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.
- Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners CanSPEP – Planner directory
- Reference Canada
Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
In the top search box enter “event planning” and click LOOKUP.
Select the appropriate headings.
Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).
Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies
Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.
Networking and the Hidden Job Market:
When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.
- Charity Village [under search, click on ‘volunteer’]
Volunteering in Community Organizations and Recreation Centres
Many public community organizations and recreation centres sponsor or hold events – contact your local community organization to see if they are accepting volunteers for events. You can start by looking for organizations in:
[provides contact information for community, government and social services organizations/agencies in BC]
- Municipalities: complete list of BC cities and towns
go to your local city/town website and search for ‘volunteer’
- Public Recreation Centres and Parks
go to your local city/town website and search for ‘parks’ or ‘recreation’ or ‘community centre’; when you locate your local recreation centre, search for ‘volunteer’
Also check with local sports organizations to see if they need Tournament volunteers.
For additional tips see:
Applying for a Job
In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your experience. Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
For more information see:
Where Can This Job Lead?
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.
Source: WorkBC Career Profile
Where Can I Find More Information?
- Corporate Meetings Network (for Canadian corporate meeting planners)