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What does a Convention Planner do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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A convention planner is someone who specializes in planning and organizing conventions, ranging from meetups of physicians to comic book conventions. Convention planners may work for popular convention sites, offering assistance to people who book those sites for the purpose of holding conventions. They can also work for private companies, and some convention planners specialize in particular types of conventions, becoming the go-to person for people who want conventions to run smoothly and attract attendees.

Organizing a convention requires a great deal of effort. In addition to securing a site where the convention is to be held, a convention planner also takes care of obtaining liability insurance, a workforce for the convention, and any special objects and support needed by convention attendees. Convention planners may also book suites of rooms in local hotels, coordinate transport to and from major airports, and arrange accommodations for guest speakers and honorees at the convention. Planning services also include making arrangements for meals, getting permits if they are necessary for the convention, organizing security, and taking care of special services such as a daycare for convention attendees.

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In addition to dealing with the physical nuts and bolts of the convention, the convention planner also handles printed material for the convention, from signs to direct people around the facility to convention programs handed out to people attending the convention. The convention planner organizes and publishes a schedule, books speakers and panel guests, and takes reservations from people who plan to attend the convention. Reservation systems including tracking systems for payments and systems to generate nametags. The convention planner also puts together goody bags and other materials for people attending the convention.

Convention organizing also usually includes marketing and other communications, which include mailers, websites, email lists, and the arrangement of bulletin boards for attendees who want to network before the convention. The convention planner also coordinates the receipt of objects being shipped to the convention, such as booths and stalls for a sales floor, books by authors speaking at the convention, and so forth. Organizing the convention space is also a critical part of the job, with convention planners assigning display space, determining which panels and events should go where, and ensuring that attendees make their way to where they need to go.

A convention planner is usually assisted by a staff to whom various tasks can be delegated, and staffers are present at all times during the convention to deal with problems as they arise. This type of work requires excellent organizing and people skills, and the ability to juggle many different tasks at once. In any given day, a convention planner may deal with a speaker who is miffed about hotel accommodations, local police concerned about parking issues, vendors who want to change places on the convention floor, and a wide variety of other problems.

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