Event planning an industry on the upswing

CanWest News Service
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Ever wonder who ensures that all those conferences across the country take place without a hitch?

Ever wonder who ensures that all those conferences across the country take place without a hitch?

Or who organizes the bookings, menus, equipment, finances and press releases for the dozens of meetings, seminars, exhibits, trade shows, weddings, fairs or other events that take place every day?

Theyre conference and events planners, behind-the-scenes wizards who also ensure that such things as audio-visual equipment, transportation, even translation services and displays are on hand when needed.

More and more convention facilities are being built across the country at a time when special events and conventions are being recognized as huge generators of community funding.

Because of that, most signs point to a good future as conference and events planners, with job opportunities in corporations, hotels, resorts, associations (both private and non-profit), convention centres, destination management companies and municipal visitors bureaus.

According to the Business Council of B.C.s The Third Option Rocks career guide, many conference and events planners go on to start their own businesses.

The guide noted that graduation from a recognized communications, marketing, business administration or tourism management program at the post-secondary level is becoming industry standard for hiring conference and event planners.

Lindsay Carmichael, 24, is in the second year of Thompson Rivers Universitys events and conventions management program, which is part of the universitys tourism management department.

Carmichael, a Kamloops resident, said she has always been interested in managing events, starting at age seven when she organized a bake sale for the RCMP.

I (organized) the area, the supplies and I got the media going for it.

I also did events in school and produced an eight-page newspaper. I did the marketing, sold ads and wrote articles.

Carmichael said shes also interested in the non-profit sector and as a teen helped World Vision organize in Merritt.

Besides attending TRU, Carmichael works with the local Community Arts Council. I just finished the Childrens Arts Festival. It had 3,500 people. I organized the entertainment and workshops throughout the day.

Carmichael said she likes the TRU program, because its hands-on and introduces students to many different areas in events management.

She also said the program attracts students from across Canada, the U.S. and other countries.

Id like to stay in Kamloops, she added. Id love to work with Interior Community Services.

Phil McIntyre-Paul, who has his own events planning company, Luminous Experiential Event Designs, based in Salmon Arm, B.C., teaches events and conventions management at TRU.

Were definitely seeing a huge increase in demand, both from the private sector and non-profits, McIntyre-Paul said in an interview. Students are coming out of the program and theres a wide range of opportunities.

MacIntyre-Paul said there are between 40 and 50 students enrolled in the program, with many international students.

The skills they develop are highly transferable. Were seeing students going into a number of areas, from hotel and hospitality, to working with non-profit (groups).

Theres plenty of work if theyre flexible and willing to move.

Organizations: Business Council of B.C.s The Third Option Rocks, RCMP, World Vision Community Arts Council Interior Community Services

Geographic location: Kamloops, Merritt, Canada U.S. Salmon Arm

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