A trade show is a convention where companies show off their products and services to people involved in a specific trade. Trade show coordinators ensure that such an event goes smoothly, by communicating with everyone involved in the show's development. They make sure that vendors, or exhibitors, are satisfied and have a positive experience. With so many details involved in creating a trade show, the coordinator has a busy job, dealing with complications as they arise.
Trade show coordinators plan, organize and coordinate activities for a trade show, according to the Occupational Information Network (OIN). A coordinator must determine a trade show's goals, purpose, message and impression. If a venue has not been chosen, a coordinator will seek out potential exhibit space and later issue proposals to sites in which she is interested.
Once a venue has been selected, coordinators arrange support services. They also communicate with attending trade show vendors and accommodate their needs. Trade show coordinators, also called event planners, must develop and maintain relationships and communicate effectively. Financial management is a large portion of the job, as they negotiate contracts with facilities, suppliers and vendors. They also work within a budget to accommodate the trade show's goals.
Being a trade show coordinator is a fast-paced and demanding career, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Planners multi-task and oversee several operations at one time, face many deadlines and coordinate activities of different groups of individuals. Trade show coordinators may meet others in their office, at a hotel, convention center or other location, and may travel frequently. Work hours are typically long and irregular, especially in the time leading up to a trade show. They may also work long days during shows, sometimes beginning as early as 5:00 a.m. and not ending until midnight. Planners often work weekends, as many trade shows are held over weekends, and stand or walk for hours. Heavy lifting of materials, exhibits and other supplies is often required.
Skills and Education
The skills needed by trade show coordinators are often learned in the course of another job, such as planning small gatherings while working at an office, according to the BLS. Informal training occurs after a candidate is hired, and entry-level employees may work under the supervision of an experienced trade show coordinator, receiving more responsibilities as they gain experience. People from various educational and work backgrounds may seek a position in trade show coordination. Many employers prefer a bachelor's degree, says the BLS, but it is not always required.
Trade show planners must have superb written and verbal skills, according to the BLS, and should be detail-oriented and extremely well organized. They also must keep their cool when working under pressure, and possess strong math skills for budgeting and record keeping.
Salary and Outlook
According to the BLS, the average hourly wage of trade show coordinators was $24.13 in 2013, and the average annual wage was $50,190. Job growth in the field of meeting, convention and event planning was expected to be 33 percent in the decade before 2022, much faster than average job growth.
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