Convention Services Manager Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a convention services manager career? Get the real job description, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a convention services manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Convention Services Manager

Convention services managers oversee event planning and organization for hotels or convention centers. Read on for some pros and cons of being a convention services manager to see if it seems like a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a Convention Services Manger
High projected job growth (33% from 2012-2022 for all meeting and event planners)*
Work experience may offset postsecondary education requirements**
Professional certification is available*
Variety in day-to-day work*

Cons of Being a Convention Services Manager
Job competition may be high*
May work long or irregular hours*
Can be deadline-oriented, client-focused and stressful*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Multiple job postings (found May 2012).

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Convention services mangers are employed by large hotels or convention centers to act as liaisons between hotel staff and outside event planners or representatives. They coordinate events or meetings held in the facility with hotel catering services and other staff, addressing issues such as meeting space, lodging needs and equipment provision. During events, convention services managers often work on-site to oversee the event's execution and address any unexpected issues. They may thus work long or irregular hours, including on weekends, especially in the days or weeks leading up to an event.

In addition to overseeing all the planning details, convention services managers may also be responsible for marketing the venue's services to outside event planners and organization representatives. Encouraging and securing repeat bookings - for conferences or conventions that meet annually, for example - can be a significant aspect of this role.

Salary Info and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), event planners, which include convention services managers, are expected to see an employment increase of 33% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS indicates the median annual income for event planners in 2014 was around $46,000, with the highest-paid workers in the field earning about $82,000 or more annually (www.bls.gov).

Education and Training Requirements

Convention services managers usually need a bachelor's degree, preferably in a field such as marketing, business or hospitality management, per the BLS. Experience with event planning, scheduling or hospitality service may also be required, especially if your degree is not directly related to hospitality management.

There are also personal qualities that will help you find success in this occupation. Since the work is often fast-paced and may require you to adapt and respond to last-minute changes, the ability to remain poised and professional under pressure is important. Customer service is an imperative part of being a convention services manager, so you'll need to have the requisite interpersonal and follow-through capacities. You'll also be dealing with a lot of contact and scheduling details, so organizational skills are essential.

What Employers Are Looking for

Though many employers require convention services managers to have a bachelor's degree, some may consider significant prior experience or a combination of experience and education to serve as sufficient qualifications. Following are a few job posts from real employers in May 2012:

  • A large municipal venue in Arizona looked for a candidate to direct its operations and marketing, including managing multiple event buildings, handling partner contracts and supervising volunteers. Required qualifications included a bachelor's degree in hospitality management, marketing or a similar field; at least five years of experience managing events; or an equivalent combination of experience and education.
  • A Pittsburgh-based hotel sought a candidate to manage event coordination and handle all billing and financial processes during and following an event's occurrence. The job required long and irregular hours at times, as well as some physical exertion in moving various objects. Two years of hotel experience or a combination of an associate degree and one year of experience was required.
  • A Florida resort advertised for a candidate to confer with numerous internal personnel and external clients to oversee meeting needs in addition to performing sales of event-related products and services. A bachelor's degree, previous resort management experience and a willingness to work irregular hours were all required.
  • A hotel in Texas searched for a candidate to perform marketing and customer relations for its event facilities. The position involved overseeing contracts and billing, coordinating needs with other hotel departments and selling catering services. The call emphasized the need for strong customer service and sales skills.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Education and Experience

Due to the increasing specificity and complexity of the event management field, choosing a major related to this occupation, such as hospitality management, can help your job prospects. Other disciplines that may appeal to employers include marketing or business management, as they teach relevant skills with regard to sales and invoicing.

Since employers often prefer to hire candidates with professional experience, finding work in an environment such as hotel services or catering may give you an edge in your job search. If you are a member of any clubs in college or elsewhere, volunteering to help plan their meetings or events can also give you experience employers may value. Expertise in relevant technology, such as communications software and social media marketing, may also help you stand out.

Certification

Professional certification is available for meeting and event planners. To become certified, you generally need to have worked in event planning for a specified amount of time and pass a written exam. Certification is not a requirement, but it demonstrates that you possess the skills relevant to working in this field to potential employers.

Alternative Career Paths

If being a convention services manager doesn't sound like the right fit for you, there are some similar jobs you may be interested in. If you like the idea of working in a hotel environment, but you don't find the extensive organizing of convention services management appealing, you could consider becoming a hotel manager with only a bachelor's degree. These workers supervise staff and oversee customer service and establishment standards to ensure guest satisfaction. The middle half of lodging managers earned approximately $36,000 to $66,000 per year as of 2011, per the BLS.

If you'd rather not deal with the numerous deadlines and irregular hours of being a convention services manager, you might want to consider becoming a travel agent. Travel agents work with various details in order to find the best travel arrangements for customers with a focus on customer service and accommodation. This job usually requires only a high school diploma, though sometimes employers prefer some postsecondary coursework in travel planning. According to the BLS, the median annual income for travel agents was around $34,000 in 2011.

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George Mason University

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Kaplan University

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Full Sail University

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Northcentral University

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Saint John's University

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Virginia College

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Purdue University

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