Power bills, fruit and veg, petrol and other daily living expenses may be rising, but not that of the average Australian meeting and event manager, according to the latest salary survey by Event Recruitment.

The annual salary survey conducted by Event Recruitment, with more than 1300 respondents, has found that in 2012 the base salaries of event managers ($75,000 per annum), conference managers ($74,000), exhibition managers ($74,000), and venue managers ($65,000) remained unchanged from 2011.
The big winners (although it’s probably hard to qualify as a “winner” for an annual base salary of less than $40,000 per annum), were event administrators, with salaries that jumped by 5.4 per cent in the past 12 months – from $37,000 in 2011 to $39,000 in 2012, and marketing coordinators (a 5.3 per cent increase from $57,000 in 2011 to $60,000 in 2012).
At the top of the line, event producers saw a 3.5 per cent base salary increase from $85,000 per annum to $88,000 per annum.
Event Recruitment’s John Hackett says the salary increases at the lower levels and the more senior levels are probably a flow-on from the GFC back in 2009 where redundancies and recruitment freezes were high.
“The lower end of the market experienced salary level drops in excess of other levels and have been playing catch up during the ensuing years,” Mr Hackett said.
“The event manager level has been treading water with respect to salary movements – virtually unchanged since 2010 after some upward movement following the GFC. This trend will likely continue if business confidence and therefore recruitment demand remains subdued throughout 2013.”
Looking at the graph (pictured), the more senior roles in the business event sector have seen modest gains which Mr Hackett attributes to a number of factors.
“The business development manager role is more sought after as businesses try to increase market share,” he said.
“There have also been some increases in demand for technical event production (particularly in the experiential marketing field) and marketing specialists (with social media campaign management expertise skills).”
Mr Hackett agrees that event graduate salaries are low compared to other professions which he believes is due to the popularity of event management as a vocation. He says because of this lower salaries are often maintained throughout an event graduate’s career if they remain in an event specialist role within a small business. Salaries do go higher if they join a large corporate business.
At the top end – event producers and business development managers – he says there has been talk of a skills shortage.
“It follows that you would expect their salaries to rise at a greater rate but there are a couple of likely reasons why this is not happening. Firstly, for BDMs the salary we quote is a base salary and they may in fact be getting a greater overall package increase through more attractive performance bonus arrangements being offered. For technical event producers they are getting increases that are slightly ahead of CPI, [perhaps] lower than expected because the demand for producers is on a temporary contract basis rather than a permanent basis. The higher temporary contract demand is a symptom of a cautious market that lacks confidence about the future and we are seeing that in the news across all sectors.
“I hope there will be some upswing in 2013 but the permanent market was softening at a greater rate in the second half of last year so we will have to wait and see what happens in February 2013 onwards – January can never be used as a guide. However, I think the contract market will remain relatively buoyant as it was through 2012.”

So what do you do?

According to Event Recruitment job titles listed in the survey equate to the following experience level and skills set:

  • Event administrator (six-18 months event support/administration experience) – Administrative and low level logistical support to event coordinators and managers, data-entry, providing onsite/registration assistance at events, reception and office support duties.
  • Event/conference coordinator (two-four years’ event coordination experience) – Coordinating suppliers, sourcing and liaising with speakers, sourcing venues, assisting with budgetary management, creating event orders/run schedules/timelines, managing registration procedures, managing travel and accommodation arrangements, onsite event management.
  • Event/conference manager (five years + event coordination/management experience, sometimes with staff management experience) – Client/account management, preparing client proposals, negotiating supplier/venue rates, coordinating suppliers, sourcing and liaising with speakers, event theming and design, budgetary management, creating event orders/run schedules/timelines, managing registration procedures, contributing to marketing strategies, managing travel and accommodation arrangements, supervising staff, onsite event management, post event evaluation and reporting.
  • Event producer (five years + experience in event management and skilled in the design and production of events) – Creative concept development and implementation of events, preparation and presentation of client tender and pitch documents, leading teams of designers, technicians, suppliers, entertainers, audio-visual production personnel and event staff, account management and client liaison, venue and catering liaison, budgetary management, financial analysis, risk assessment and management, project evaluation.
  • Exhibition coordinator (one-four years’ exhibition coordination experience) – Assisting with exhibition theming and design, assisting with floorplan design and maintenance, creating event orders/run schedules/timelines, liaison with venues, contractors, exhibitors, sourcing quotes and contractors, sponsorship generation and delivery, sourcing and briefing suppliers and exhibitors, tender and proposal preparation, implementing marketing and PR communications, onsite exhibition support, post event evaluation and reporting.
  • Exhibition manager (five years + exhibition coordination/management experience) – Account management, budget management, exhibition theming and design, planning and implementing marketing and PR communications, exhibition sales and business development, liaison with venues, contractors and exhibitors, sourcing quotes and contractors, sponsorship generation and delivery, briefing suppliers and exhibitors, tender and proposal preparation, onsite exhibition management, floorplan design and maintenance, creating event orders/run schedules/timelines, staff management and supervision, post event evaluation and reporting.
  • Marketing coordinator (one-four years’ marketing coordination experience) – Organising the production of promotional materials and collateral, sourcing of promotional products, assisting with the creation of communication material (invitations, email updates, newsletters, newsflashes, etc.), website updates and maintenance, assist the marketing manager with general marketing activities, implementing marketing strategies, database management, direct marketing/mailouts, sponsorship proposals and agreements, market research, and sales coordination.
  • Marketing manager (five years + marketing coordination/management experience) – Strategic development, production and implementation of integrated event marketing campaigns, management of PR and public affairs activity, sponsorship proposal negotiation and management, market research, branding activities, budget management and reporting, conducting direct marketing campaigns, advertising management, creation of communication material (invitations, email updates, newsletters, newsflashes etc.), design and maintenance of websites, management/supervision of staff.
  • Venue manager (three-five years + venue management experience) – Coordinate client events within the venue (from the initial enquiry and quote, contract agreement to final payment),client relationship development and maintenance, generate new and potential business, manage all event logistics (AV support, food and beverage, location, entertainment, operations and set up, etc.), coordinate famils, budget management, staff management/supervision, and onsite event management.
  • Business development manager (three years + event sales/business development experience) – Sell/up-sell event services (telephone and face-to-face meetings), client proposal presentations, maximise sales opportunities, build and maintain client relationships, attend networking events to build industry contacts, develop marketing and sales plans and strategies, research and identify new clients and markets, conduct site inspections, and liaise with event teams.

Event Recruitment makes the complete survey available to business owners or managers of event staff. To receive your copy, email John Hackett on