Exhibition Organiser Careers

How to become an Exhibition Organiser

What does a Exhibition Organiser do?

Exhibition and conference organisers plan and co-ordinate events such as exhibitions, trade shows and conferences. These can be major events such as the Ideal Home Exhibition, the Chelsea Flower Show, or party political conferences, to smaller local or regional events.

Organisers can work for event management companies, for exhibition or conference venues, or as freelance organisers. The work is generally split into three areas. It is possible to work in any or all of the following:

Marketing - researching the level of interest in a specific event, and finding suitable venues and dates to hold it. The publicity, design and printing of tickets, posters and promotional items to advertise the event is then organised.

Sales - selling stand space to exhibitors by telephone or face-to-face and arranging sponsorship. During an exhibition sales staff may contact all the exhibitors to try to sell space for future events.

Operations - co-ordinating all the practical aspects, from planning timetables, booking venues to supervising contractors such as exhibition designers, stand suppliers, audio-visual production companies and caterers. During the event, operations staff work closely with venue staff, and deal with enquiries from exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and visitors/delegates. They supervise health and safety issues and ensure the venue is cleared safely.

Please see the Events Manager profile for related information.

What's the working environment like working as a Exhibition Organiser?

Exhibition/conference organisers are mostly office based and spend a lot of time on the telephone. They travel to meet potential sponsors and exhibitors, and to visit venues, contractors and other exhibitions.

Just before, and during an event, operations staff work long hours, often including weekends to meet deadlines.

Organising exhibitions or conferences can also be a role undertaken by someone with other duties in an organisation. For example, their main role may be in sales and marketing, human resources or as a personal assistant, but they manage occasional events when necessary.

What does it take to become a Exhibition Organiser?

The skills required depend on whether the exhibition organiser’s role is in sales, marketing or operations. However, all exhibition organisers should:

  • be able to work within a team environment
  • be able to liaise with people at all levels, from clients to contractors
  • have good communication skills with a good telephone manner
  • have excellent organisational skills with the ability to ‘multi-task’
  • be able to work under pressure to strict deadlines
  • have good negotiation skills, particularly in sales and marketing
  • have lots of stamina, particularly during the show itself
  • have an understanding of budgets
  • have IT skills
  • be able to pay close attention to detail.

Exhibition Organiser Career Opportunities

Most exhibition staff work for one of the hundreds of exhibition companies all over the country. Half of the exhibitions industry is in London and the south east. Other key areas of employment are based around major exhibition venues in Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

There is no formal promotion structure. Experience in sales, marketing or operations can lead to management positions. Many organisers work freelance, or set up their own company.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Exhibition Organiser that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO)
119 High Street
Tel: 01442 873331

Association for Conferences and Events (ACE)
Riverside House
High Street
PE18 6SG
Tel: 01480 457595

The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO)
Charles House (6th Floor)
148-149 Great Charles Street
B3 3HT
Tel: 0121 212 1400

Tel: 01737 779928

Chartered Institute of Marketing
Moor Hall
Tel: 01628 427500