If you think of the hospitality industry as primarily consisting of just hotels and restaurants, you might dismiss this field of study as irrelevant to your goal of being an event planner. However, hospitality is a broad field that encompasses all of the different aspects of the guest experience in the travel and tourism industry. Events of all kinds are a crucial part of the hospitality industry, and a degree in hospitality management can go a long way toward preparing you for this career. Although you can take several different educational paths to prepare for a career in event planning, hospitality management is an option that is at once comprehensive and versatile.
The Place of Hospitality in Event Planning
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The meaning of ‘hospitality’ is treating guests with the courtesy and generosity of friendship, even when those guests are strangers paying for an experience. While this concept of hospitality certainly fits into a full-service restaurant or hotel, it is just as relevant to the planning of events. Whether you are planning a social gathering or a professional conference, a corporate meeting or a wedding, you want your attendees to experience this same sense of guest friendship and to feel comfortable and welcome at your event. In fact, as the organizer of the event, it’s your job to anticipate what attendees will need and proactively provide those services and amenities.
Just as the notion of hospitality is the same for event planning as it is for hotel and restaurant management, so are many of the skills needed to be effective in these roles. Each of these management positions requires you to have strong skills in managing logistics. You need to keep track of who will attend the event, just as a hotel manager needs to keep track of room occupancy and a restaurant manager must handle table reservations. As an event planner, you must coordinate the schedules of workers, the times of different activities or presentations and the arrival of food or supplies – just as hotel managers must coordinate the staffing of programs and services for guests and a restaurant manager must make sure the kitchen is operating on time. In fact, the more complex the events you manage are, the more your work has in common with that of hoteliers and restaurant managers.
Being able to think about the potential problems that could arise with an event or for the attendees and prepare advance solutions to those problems is an important part of success in this occupation, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Using a Hospitality Curriculum for an Event Planning Career
The basic curriculum of a hospitality program holds a lot of value for aspiring event planners. Most programs include core business coursework in studies like financial accounting, managerial accounting, business law, management information systems and data analysis for business decisions. This background can help you with the financial aspects of your work, such as budgeting, coordinating finances, purchasing supplies and using event planning software popular across the industry.
Food is an important part of most events, whether a wedding, a conference for a professional organization or a charity gala. Although many of your peers may be considering a career managing a restaurant, you can use classes in food principles, food preparation techniques, food service management systems, catering and menu planning to become qualified to handle the food-related part of events.
When you study the principles of hospitality in the guest experience, the strategies used in hospitality management and the techniques for effective marketing and sales, you are learning concepts and practices that directly transfer to your efforts in planning events where people will feel welcomed. Most hospitality management programs include an internship. Although developing hands-on skills in hospitality management is useful in general, this experience becomes even more advantageous if you can land an event planning internship.
Some hospitality management programs offer specialized tracks or concentrations in the field of event planning. Through these tracks, you will take focused coursework that addresses the challenges and practices of the event planning career path. In an event planning concentration, you might take courses such as Introduction to Event Planning, Techniques of Professional Event management, Planning Special Events, Exhibition Design and Production and Social Media Marketing.
You would certainly find a hospitality management degree helpful in your path to becoming an event planner, but you could also prepare for this role with a specialized degree in event planning or a business or communications background, the BLS reported.