Conference Coordinator Job Description
If you’re the person family and friends depend upon to organize a reunion or plan a surprise party, you might be well-suited to a career as a conference coordinator. As the one responsible for all of a gathering’s elements, a conference coordinator assumes a lion’s share of an event’s success or failure. Much of a conference coordinator’s work is performed in an office via telephone and computer. But these professionals also travel routinely to scout venues, talk with vendors, and (of course) attend the conferences they put together. It’s a full-time job that can be stressful and demand extra hours as the date of the event draws near.
Conference Coordinator Duties and Responsibilities
All kinds of different organizations hold conferences—political groups, professional associations, and academic institutions, to name a few—so the nature of a coordinator’s job varies. However, certain core tasks are staples of the position. Based on listings we analyzed, here are some of the most typical things conference coordinators can expect to do:
Develop a Plan
Working with the leaders of the group sponsoring the gathering, conference coordinators come up with a theme for the event and plan activities. They may decide, for instance, to make a keynote speaker the focus of the day’s activities followed by roundtable discussions in groups of 20.
Before they can promote the conference, coordinators have to secure the participation of experts and others who will speak or lead. This may involve the conference coordinator contacting these parties directly or talking to their public relations representatives. Other actions could include putting out requests for possible presenters, such as biologists who’d like to showcase their discoveries at a scientific conference.
Secure a Venue
Taking the number of participants and the types of activities going on into account, the coordinator researches possible locations at which to hold the conference. Visiting the actual facility and talking with representatives from the establishment helps in the decision-making process.
Make Travel Arrangements
When guests are attending from outside the region, the conference coordinator looks into booking blocks of rooms at nearby hotels at a discounted rate. Other jobs may include organizing shuttle service to and from the airport, transporting people to the conference, and offering social activities for downtime. The conference coordinator may even make flight arrangements for speakers and create their itinerary.
When details are finalized, the conference coordinator may send out information to interested parties. This might involve mailing literature on the conference’s date, location, and purpose to people who are already members of the sponsoring group, such as restaurant owners who belong to a trade association for the food and beverage industry. It also could mean spreading word of the conference in general to individuals or groups with possible interest, such as informing teachers of a conference on new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom.
The conference itself presents the coordinator with a flurry of tasks both on the days it is being held and the time leading up to it. Responsibilities can include handling registration, selecting food, providing accurate head counts, putting together packets, allocating speaking time, issuing name tags, determining the layout of rooms, and securing audio-visual equipment.
Following the event, the conference coordinator may seek feedback from participants. This information can be helpful in planning future gatherings. The coordinator and the sponsors of the conference usually convene to discuss how things went and to settle any financial matters.
Conference Coordinator Skills and Qualifications
Only detail-oriented individuals with the ability to see projects through from start to finish need apply for conference coordinator positions. Multitasking is a way of life when you’re in charge of so many different things, and superior organizational abilities are a must. Other desirable abilities include:
- Interpersonal skills – dealing with vendors, guests, speakers, and the like requires clear communication and a friendly demeanor
- Collaboration – working seamlessly with both members of your own team and outside parties ensures everyone is on the same page and committed to an outstanding outcome
- Negotiation – to get satisfactory rates and services requires conference coordinators to discuss terms until an agreement can be reached
- Thinking on your feet – when those best-laid plans of conference coordinators go awry, the ability to generate solutions quickly can get the gathering back on track
Conference Coordinator Education and Training
Most conference coordinators hold a bachelor’s degree, oftentimes in meeting and event management. Other popular majors include business, communications, and hospitality. To increase job prospects or further their careers, candidates also may obtain a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential that involves a mixture of experience, continuing education, and passing an exam.
Conference Coordinator Salary and Outlook
The national median annual salary for conference coordinators, categorized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) under “meeting, convention, and event planners,” is $47,350. Workers in the 10th percentile earn less than $25,670, and the highest paid make more than $83,000.
Demand for professionally planned conferences looks promising. The BLS projects an increase of 11 percent for the industry between 2016 and 2026.
Conference Coordinator Resources
Are you cut out for a career as a conference coordinator? Here are some sources that can aid in your decision:
Events Industry Council – learn more about best practices in the field of meeting management through information put out by this professional association
Meeting and Event Planning for Dummies – reviewers praise this book in the popular series for being comprehensive, easy to use, and full of helpful checklists
Professional Convention Management Association – from networking to professional development, this group aims to advance the objectives and careers of conference coordinators and other business event strategists
We’ve Got to START Meeting Like This!: Creating Inspiring Meetings, Conferences, and Events – anyone interested in fresh ideas on planning and delivering a successful conference can benefit from author Dana Wright’s insights
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