how to become an event planner

Conference / Meeting Planning Careers

In this section, we'll look at the pros and cons of conference/meeting planning careers—as described by a professional; Bill Jones, Vice President and Managing Director of Events, The Channel Company (formerly UBM Tech Channel).

Bill Jones
Bill Jones
The Channel Company

Bill Jones is Vice President and Managing Director of Events for The Channel Company (formerly UBM Tech Channel, part of UBM) a global live media and business-to-business communications, marketing services, and data provider.

Bill’s event expertise spans on-demand conferences, virtual events, live events, conferences, road shows, and partner events.

Recent events include Midsize Enterprise Summit, Healthcare IT Summit, Best of Breed Conference, and Women of the Channel Workshop.

Pros of Conference / Meeting Planning Careers

The People You Meet

“I think for me, working in conferences, it’s all about the people. Conferences are community events for certain groups of people—and they can be full of really interesting people. It’s about getting out there and meeting fantastic people that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to meet—and having fun with it.

In our business, we’ve got to meet people like Bill Cosby, Jay Leno, and Ray Romano at the major awards events we do. We’ve also booked some amazing bands.”


Travel Opportunities

“We do conferences all over, so there are some real nice travel opportunities in this business. We’re fortunate enough to stay at some unbelievable hotel venues that you probably would never have stayed at in your own life. Sometimes you find yourself in a 2,000 sq ft suite that the hotel has upgraded you to! It’s not the reason you do the job, but it’s definitely a very nice perk.”


Contributing to Business Growth

“What’s great about the conference business is that you’re working on a product that you’re actually going to get to see it come to life. You’re going to an event that you built as a planner. You’ve spent time shaping it, then you’re going to see people there networking and doing business, and you’re responsible for helping them grow their business. It is your time and effort that allows them to have that ultimate experience. Your job is to put an event together to help them sell more stuff. To me, that’s one of the biggest things I get out of this job.

If you stop every once in a while and understand that what you’re doing through your work is actually helping others to grow their business, that makes the job really enjoyable.”


All-Round Experience

“Most businesses that run conferences, run them pretty thin—they’re light in staffing. So as a planner, you’re going to get your hands dirty in a couple of different areas and learn more all-round.”

Cons of Conference/Meeting Planning Careers

Lack of Recognition

“If you are looking to constantly be recognized in the public eye then event planning is most likely not the best career path for you. Most likely, departments such as sales and audience recruitment will tend to get more praise at an event—but understand that without buyers and sellers, you don’t have an event. Use the success of the event as your ‘pat on the back’.”


Budget Linked to Sales

“As a planner, your job is to create an experience, an incredible event, within the means of the budget. So if the sales team doesn’t hit a particular number, the first thing the company is going to do is look to cut some of the expenses.

That can be tough for the planner to accommodate and they might feel that they’re now not putting on the best possible experience for the customer; because they now don’t have the budget they expected. To everyone else it’s still a great event, but the planner created something originally, and now they feel they’re dropping it down a couple of levels. That can be very discouraging—but it’s just out of your control.”


Lack of Variety

“Some people think that working on the same format or same type of event—all the time—is a down side working in meeting/conference planning, and it can be. For me personally, I think it pushes you to become more of an expert in that type of event and to think outside the box.”


Pressure to Evolve

“Meetings and Conferences are changing so much, because it’s a digital world we live in right now. People want information now; fast and faster than they had it yesterday, and they want it in all forms of media—whether that’s apps or social media.

The customer’s needs are changing all the time and we have to meet those needs in order to provide the best conference experience for those attendees. You can’t be complacent.”

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