Breaking into the Event Planning Business as an Event Coordinator
An Introduction to the Job and Industry Opportunities for Event Coordinators
At the core of any event-related organization is the event coordinator. This is the person responsible for supervising and executing all of the event details from setup to tear down. Event coordinators are typically more hands-on than event planners or administrators. Their primary role is to oversee the execution of details determined by the lead event planner. It is generally the lead event or meeting planner who makes the final decision regarding things like the venue selection, meal choices, and itinerary times, while the event coordinator aids in executing those decisions and ensures everything goes as planned.
Industries for Event Coordinators
An event coordinator's job description may also have other responsibilities or job-specific roles depending on the company or organization for which they work. One of the most enticing aspects of working in event coordination and execution is that roles like that of an event coordinator are not limited to a specific industry. In fact, event coordinators can find great job opportunities just about anywhere. As proof, let's look at an overview of specific duties that accompany event coordinator positions across various industries.
Corporate Event Coordinators
In a corporate environment, the coordinator reports directly to a lead event planner or executive decision maker. Here the coordinator becomes the direct contact between the event vendors like hotels and caterers and the corporate event supervisor. The coordinator's job is to effectively carry out the plan designed by management. On event day, it is also the coordinator’s responsibility to make sure everyone gets where they need to go and ensures that the event is set up properly.
Hotel and Other Venue Event Coordinators
On the facility side, an event coordinator discusses all of the details with the client and then communicates this information to department heads within the venue. This is done both through the creation of banquet event orders and meeting directly with the internal team. On the day of the event, the venue coordinator is present to greet the client and provide general supervision to the event operations staff. Event coordinators for hotels and other event venues generally report to the banquet director or sales manager.
Seminar and Learning Institution Event Coordinators
There are several companies that offer regional learning opportunities across the country. Most common are those you see for test preparation courses for the GRE, LSAT, GMAT and ELS programs. These companies operate from a central corporate office and travel to different cities to teach live seminars. Here the event coordinator is responsible for booking the necessary hotels and classrooms and communicating with student guests, speakers, and venue representatives. Most of the time this work is done at the corporate office, but there could be times when the event coordinator needs to travel onsite.
Non-Profit Event Coordinators
Large non-profits like the Red Cross may hold dozens of events per month because they serve so many different groups across the country. This level of volume combined with a limited budget means non-profit event coordinators are generally asked to perform a wider range of duties. This can include things like organizing volunteers, participating in fundraising, and soliciting material donations. Non-profit careers are not for everyone, and it is important to be passionate about their cause because much of the work is indeed a labor of love.
Independent Planning Firm Event Coordinators
Event planners that become successful running their own business will eventually need to expand if they want to continue to grow. Their first hire will likely be an assistant event coordinator. This is perhaps the widest ranging coordinator position of them all. Not only will the event coordinator be expected to work with clients and vendors, but the may also have to serve the needs of the business owner as well. That means handling some of the more time-consuming tasks that keep the owner from growing his or her business further.
On the bright side, working for an independent planner offers an unprecedented opportunity for career development as the coordinator will be immersed in all facets of the business.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking to break into the event planning industry, then searching for an event coordinator position is a great start. The education and experience requirements are usually pretty basic, and if you get in at the right place, there are plenty of positions to grow into. Salaries vary between industries and regions, but you can expect to make between $35,000 and $45,000 per year.