Student Info Center
Explore ESPA and the profession of Event Service
What is Convention or Event Service Management?
The profession of Convention or Event Services is a dynamic, fast-paced, and ever-evolving career path! A critical part of the event planning process, the role as the CSM brings ongoing interaction with meeting planners and members of your community as well as in-depth exposure to the hospitality industry.
A meeting planner’s primary points of contact with the city, hotel or convention facility where their meeting is being held is the Convention or Event Services Manager (CSM). The planner and CSM work very closely together and become true partners in the execution of events.
The following description is excerpted from Professional Meeting Management, fifth edition, by PCMA, which included editorial contributions by ESPA members.
The convention or event services manager (CSM) assists the meeting manager with coordination of meeting details and services before, during and after the meeting. The CSM is the lead contact between the meeting manager and the city, hotels, convention facility and local suppliers. CSMs are employed by convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), hotels, and convention facilities and can have titles that vary by facility. Some of the different titles a meeting manager might encounter include:
- Director of Convention Services
- Convention Services Manager
- Event Services Manager
- Event Coordinator
- Conference Services Coordinator
- Operations Manager
Ideally, the CSM helps customers obtain resources for promotional and publicity material, identify personnel for registration and other related purposes, and provide for their contractual needs. In essence, the CSM becomes the client’s on site liaison. The CSM evaluates and offers goods and services that increase the event’s efficiency and provide cost savings. Done properly, this action can help the client increase attendance, gain access to the goods and services that they and their exhibitors or vendors need, and make the community aware of the organization’s presence and mission.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau Convention Services Manager
The CSM provides continual assistance during the meeting’s initial planning process, on-site during the actual meeting, and after the meeting is over. The CVB CSM’s broad-based knowledge allows them to work throughout the community providing clients with access to a full range of destination services and suppliers. They can educate the meeting manager on local policies and procedures, products, services and venues.
The Hotel Convention Services Manager
In contrast to the CVB CSM, the hotel CSM coordinates the services that are required to support a meeting held in a hotel. A hotel CSM is well-versed in the operation of each hotel department and assists meeting managers with all the details involved with their meetings. A meeting manager can request that the hotel CSM join the hotel sales manager during the initial site visit. The hotel CSM is a valuable source of information throughout the booking process and can offer alternatives to both parties based on experiences with similar events.
The Convention Center CSM
The role of the CSM in a convention center has unique features and responsibilities unlike those of a CSM in a hotel environment or at a CVB. Multi-tasking, a part of all three disciplines, is expanded for the Center CSM. Sales manager(s) from the center and, in some cases, the CVB are the first to interact with the CSM at the center. Subsequently, a myriad of vendors, labor sources from both inside and outside the facility, catering concerns, billing and other accounting services from multiple departments, together with a host of personnel managers from various departments within the center are all centralized and, to some degree, managed or, at least, directed by a single source in the convention center, the CSM. This one-stop management system is not necessarily universal.
Why explore a career in this profession?
Hear from meeting planner Vanessa Kane, CMP, CMM, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, why the role of the services manager is so integral to success of events.
Why join ESPA?
Benefits of membership
- Networking and mentorship opportunities with professionals working in the field, and the ability to make great contacts for your future in the meetings industry
- Professional association involvement is a great resume builder, making you more attractive to prospective employers
- Opportunities to participate in remote training and education right from your computer through our one-hour webinars, complimentary to student members
- Student members receive priority consideration for Donald S. Freeman Jr. Conference Scholarship (*link to scholarship page*)
- Receive monthly ESPA newsletter that includes industry-related articles and tips from professionals
- Provides you with an opportunity to be part of a group that collaborates and learns from each other to help gain practical and relevant experience
- Opportunity to participate in ESPA’s Social Networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) and online ESPA Connect! community to pose questions to industry professionals
How to Join
Individual Student membership – $25 – any student engaged in hospitality or convention management study at an accredited college or university. To join at this level, simply sign up with a visitor account on the My ESPA Portal link on the web site, go to the online store and purchase the student membership. Note that a student ID will be required.
Educational Institution – $50 – any accredited post-secondary college, university or school. The membership shall comprise one (1) educator to serve as the primary member contact, to be specifically named and updated by the institution. The institution primary contact may extend membership benefits to up to five (5) enrolled students. Let your educators know about this opportunity! Have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.