A professional event planner is a man or woman who organizes, sets up, and manages various corporate, public, and private events and meetings. He or she finds appropriate venues, negotiates days, times, and rates, and determines the need for food, drinks, tables, and equipment. Many event planners actually attend the conventions, meetings, or concerts they organize in order to ensure that all of the attendees' needs are met. A professional may be employed by a planning firm, an internal committee of a business, or run an independent business.
A great deal of time and effort must be put into the planning of a large event. Many companies, government agencies, and organizations simply do not have the time, experience, and resources to put together a quality gathering. A professional event planner can take the stress off of clients and companies by assuming all of the duties involved with planning and executing a convention. He or she is usually given a basic idea of what an event is all about, including why it is taking place, budget information, and the number of people who will be present. The event planner then searches for the best venues, negotiates rates, and establishes dates and times.
Depending on the type of gathering, a professional event planner may need to arrange for catering services, entertainment, or special equipment such as microphones, video recorders, and projectors for seminars and conferences. Once everything has been scheduled, the event planner oversees the arrangement of chairs, tables, and decorations and manages other preparatory tasks on site. He or she often attends events, making sure that food and refreshments do not run low and that their clients are pleased with their work.
Many event planners work for large planning companies, where they are usually designated specific tasks, such as establishing rates or finding appropriate locations. A self-employed professional event planner, however, often assumes all of the duties involved, including promoting, marketing, financing, and supervising events. The job can be hectic, though an experienced professional takes all of the precautions and preparatory steps necessary to make sure that things run smoothly.
There are no set requirements to become a professional event planner, though many people hold associate or bachelor's degrees in business management, public relations, communications, or finance. Many national organizations offer memberships and voluntary event planner certification tests, which can help a professional improve his or her credentials and chances of finding jobs. Certification is especially important for self-employed planners, so clients can rest assured that they are dealing with professionals.