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Exhibition organiser/event manager

Looks after every aspect of exhibition planning, marketing, organisation and administration.

The roles of exhibition organisers/event managers vary, but the work encompasses identifying potential business, researching, writing, planning and running all aspects of exhibitions on behalf of a client or own organisation. They work on public events, trade and industry exhibitions, product launches, company events and private events such as weddings. As well as planning an event/exhibition in advance, they will usually be present during the event to deal with any issues as they arise.

Work activities

  • Planning exhibition hall layouts and activities programme such as workshops, seminars and demonstrations
  • Researching suitable venues and ensuring all necessary equipment is available
  • Selling stand/exhibition space to potential exhibitors
  • Seeking and securing sponsorship
  • Designing anything from online registration forms to floral arrangements
  • Arranging insurance cover and ensuring legal, health and safety requirements are adhered to
  • Coordinating caterers, stand designers and equipment hire
  • Organising car parking facilities, security, first aid and catering
  • Promoting the event and organising the production of tickets, posters, catalogues and sales brochures
  • Supervising the dismantling and removal of stands.

Work conditions

Travel: during the working day and absence from home overnight is occasional.
Working hours: these are mainly Monday-to-Friday office hours, but additional unsocial hours can include evenings and weekends.
Location: opportunities exist mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: commonly possible as many work freelance.

Typical employers

Large companies; exhibition organisers; exhibition centres.

Career development

Entry to and progression within the business is competitive. Progression is usually by taking increased responsibility for events within the same organisation, or by moving to larger organisations.

Salaries

Salaries will vary depending on the employer. In a sector essentially based on sales, bonuses are a large part of an event professional's salary.

Open to non graduates and graduates of all disciplines.

Other relevant degree subjects

Business-related studies
Marketing
Public relations

Postgraduate study

While not a prerequisite for entry, graduates with the appropriate postgraduate qualifications are likely to compete favourably.

Training

Training is usually on-the-job, but external courses are also available.

Tips for applications

Decide whether it is conferences or exhibitions in which your interest lies, as they are two totally different disciplines. Pre-entry experience is recommended. Many entrants have experience in sales, marketing, PR and advertising etc. Build up any experience which could develop and demonstrate the required skills, eg assisting at college open days and employment fairs.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Good interpersonal skills, organisational ability and time management
  • Ability to multitask
  • Attention to detail and ability to work effectively under pressure
  • Customer focus is vital
  • Negotiation skills
  • Willingness to work unsociable hours
  • Imagination and creativity
  • Ability to cope with pressure and tight deadlines.