Event Planning

Event Planning

Industry Outlook

The earnings and job prospects of meeting, convention, and event planners are sensitive to ups and downs in the economy. During recessions, companies have less money to spend to fly employees to conferences or to reward sales workers with incentive meetings at lavish resorts. Cash-strapped businesses are more likely to economize by using video conferencing in place of face-to-face meetings and to find lower budget venues for incentive meetings. Families hosting a wedding during a recession also tend to cut back on their expenses either by planning the event by themselves or by making the wedding a less elaborate affair, one that will require less of a professional planner's time.

In 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst, the occupation lost 2 percent of its workforce from the previous year. In 2001, it lost another 8 percent. Employment bounced back as the economy emerged from recession, growing by an annual average of 8 percent during the years 2002–2007. It is interesting to note that the great recession that followed merely slowed the growth of the occupation; it did not shrink the workforce, as the previous recession had. Although the growth rate from 2007–2008 was only 5 percent, annual average growth from 2007–2012 was 9 percent. It appears, therefore, that growth of this occupation will continue, and that future recessions are likely to create only temporary slowdowns rather than setbacks.

Wedding planning took longer than this industry as a whole to rebound from the most recent recession. TheKnot.com, which tracks wedding trends, found that the downward slide in budgets and expenditures per guest that began in 2008 did not begin to reverse until 2011. The wedding planning industry has been growing stronger the past few years, in direct relation to the stronger economy. The research group IBISWorld reported that the wedding industry brought in $1 billion in revenue in 2019. As more people have disposable income, more people will marry and spend money on their weddings. Industry growth is expected to continue through the mid-2020s. However, fewer couples were relying on professional wedding planners toward the end of the decade. IBISWorld revealed that do-it-yourself weddings were growing in popularity thanks to related Web sites and mobile apps. This type of option was especially attractive to those with limited financial resources.

Unlike many occupations, event planning seems resistant to job loss caused by technology and offshoring. The task of organizing a meeting requires high-level managerial skills—such as communication, critical thinking, evaluation, and tact—that a computer application cannot provide. Businesses understand that face-to-face contacts provide benefits that teleconferencing technology cannot duplicate. Offshore workers cannot easily confer with the client in person or visit the venue where the event occurs, either for advance planning or for managing the event as it happens.

Businesses recognize that it pays to use professionals for planning tasks, rather than administrative workers who lack expertise, because those who work exclusively in this industry can deliver a highly effective meeting at the best price available. Businesses sometimes use meeting planners even for arranging teleconferences.

As a result of all these factors, the outlook for the industry is rosy. The Department of Labor (DOL) projects the workforce of meeting, convention, and event planners to increase by 7 percent through 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Businesses are expected to continue relying on industry professionals to organize a steady stream of events and meetings.

Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations are a mix of for-profit and nonprofit organizations. The DOL has noted that as business meetings and events become more global in scope, the greater the demand will be for meeting and event planners. Meeting planners working for the health-care industry probably will experience the most job stability, because health-care practitioners need to attend medical meetings regularly to maintain their licensure. Another mixed group is performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries, which are projected to provide opportunities as well.

Trade show and conference planning experienced sluggish growth during the recession, but conditions had improved by the end of the decade according to IBISWorld. In 2019, the industry brought in $16 billion in revenue, with annual growth from 2014 through 2019 at slightly more than 3 percent. As business spending on marketing increases, trade groups and nonprofits will turn to trade show and conference planners to help increase sales.

Competition for job openings is expected to be strong because this field has no formal entry requirements and therefore has traditionally attracted more applicants than job openings. Job candidates with a bachelor's in hospitality management will have a definite advantage. The Certified Meeting Professional credential also is valued by potential employers, as is skill with teleconferencing and social media. High-tech skills are not just for corporate planners anymore; wedding planners need them, too. Many couples now have personal wedding Web sites, and they use social media to share wedding details with guests, and mobile phones to access planning Web sites.

One way to get started in this industry is to plan events for family members, friends, or a local volunteer organization.

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic struck a serious blow to the event planning industry. With government restrictions on public and private gatherings, lockdowns, and social distancing requirements, many event venues found it impossible to continue business as usual. Venues for business conferences and entertainment closed and canceled all activities. Catering halls shut their doors due to limits on the number of people allowed to gather. Many weddings were postponed or reinvented as small, outdoor events. In some cases, large conference facilities, such as the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, became temporary hospital facilities at the peak of the pandemic.

Cancelations and postponements continued into 2021. While in-person events remained difficult or impossible to plan, companies and planners offering digital or virtual platforms for events saw a surge in business. The party and event planners industry in the U.S. is valued at nearly $5 billion, and was expected to have a slight decline (.2 percent) in growth in 2021. Acceleration of the vaccine rollout in 2021 will help improve the economy, providing more jobs for people as businesses reopen. Consumer confidence will give rise to more events and increase the demand for event planning services. The global event management industry is expected to "rise at a considerable rate" through 2025, according to a report by Market Watch.

The U.S. trade show and conference planning industry will also rebound as the pandemic becomes contained and shows and conferences resume. As of August 2020, the trade show and conference planning industry was valued at $9 billion, with nearly 5,600 businesses and total employment of 72,478. The research group IBISWorld predicts that this industry will have strong growth through 2025, due to the economic recovery and "improved consumer sentiment, [which] is expected to result in more conventions, better attendance at trade shows, and fewer cancellations."