how to become an event planner

Convention/Exhibition Planning Careers

In this section, we'll look at the pros and cons of convention/exhibition planning careers—as described by a professional; Grace Nacchia, Event Director, George P. Johnson.

Grace Nacchia
Grace Nacchia
George P. Johnson

Grace Nacchia is an Event Director at George P. Johnson where she works on multiple conferences and conventions/exhibitions for clients that include IBM and GSMA (Global Systems for Mobile Communications Association).

Prior to George P. Johnson, Grace worked for Imagination on the Shell/Ferrari global exhibitions program and EMS Worldwide on roadshows and events for Sony and Royal Bank of Scotland. Grace has delivered events throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Pros of Convention / Exhibition Planning Careers


“With a conference, you’re usually taking over a venue, so anything you add to it design-wise has to complement the existing space.

With an convention/tradeshow/exhibition, you’re trying to put a stamp of yourself—or rather your client—in a footprint, and you’ve got a small amount of space to demonstrate how innovative you are. You have to be creative to make your booth/stand different from everyone else’s and attract people to it. There has to be an initial attraction of some sort and that’s all about the design.

That’s the part I love.”


Creating a Program of Events

“If you're organizing the entire convention/exhibition, you have total ownership of the event when it comes to the design and execution—and that's a great blank canvas to work with. You also get to plan many fun spin off events from the main conference/exhibition/trade show floor—as well as having a lot more scope for entertainment.”

Cons of Convention/Exhibition Planning Careers


“With conventions/exhibitions there’s a lot of control with regard to deadlines, in that you have to respect other people’s deadlines.

With most other events, the planner is usually the one setting the deadlines. With conventions/exhibitions, your deadlines are often set for you by the convention/exhibition you’re taking part in. There are often a lot more rules and regulations you have to follow than with say, a conference, on top of the usual health and safety considerations that come with most events.”


Long Hours

“I would say that conventions/exhibitions are a lot more all-consuming. The parameters can be endless; a bit like a ripple effect and before you know it, it’s grown! Which is great for the ultimate control freak, but the hours are long and you will find teams working through the night during shows.”

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