Most individuals interested in online event planning programs pursue online bachelor's degrees in hospitality management, which are far more common than event planning degrees. Students learn business skills regarding the organization of various event types and should get a general idea of all facets of event planning. Courses in a hospitality management degree program include restaurant management, convention planning and tourism. While some of these programs can be completed totally online, many require students to gain hands-on experience through internships. Other related majors with applicable courses include business or business management.
Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management
Hospitality management is a broad field intended for students interested in managing events, hotels, restaurants and related establishments. Students with an interest in event management can learn the finer points of organizing and running conventions, meetings and other events. Skills developed range from contract negotiations to quantity food production. Online study in hospitality management is available as a bachelor's program or as a minor within a business or management program.
Program Information and Requirements
Online hospitality management bachelor's degree programs typically require four years to complete. Though coursework can typically be completed completely online, some programs encourage local internships to foster practical experience with live events.
A computer and access to the Internet is required for online hospitality management programs. Most lectures are offered through online course management systems, such as Blackboard, for which a high-speed Internet connection can be beneficial but is not required.
Online hospitality management programs require students to take general business, economics and mathematics courses, followed by more specific hospitality-focused courses. Programs may have a series of event management courses within a specialization, or one event management course offered in conjunction with related study of the broader hospitality field. Classes are accessed through an online portal where students can download lectures and receive assignments and readings.
An online event management course prepares students to manage events as varied as business meetings and weddings. Students often use models of different types of events to learn how the clients, site staff and caterers interact with each other. Legal issues, marketing and human resources are also covered.
Travel and Tourism Management
Through an online travel and tourism management course, students develop an understanding of airline, cruise ship and related industries. Topics specific to tourism management, such as seasonality and weather factors, are explored and analyzed.
Restaurant Services Management
Online restaurant services management courses prepare students for leadership roles in restaurants, as well as the peculiarities of new and established restaurants. Management issues for restaurants include cost control, client relations and other general hospitality issues. Additionally, students study menu planning, food pricing and beverage service.
Career Outlook for Graduates
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that meeting, convention, and event planners earned a median annual wage of $46,840 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Between 2014 and 2024, job prospects were expected to grow by 10 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS reports the best prospects are for professionals with both a bachelor's degree and practical event management experience. The value of personal interaction in business, despite the development of communication technology, was expected to be a major factor in this growth.
Continuing Education Information
Neither certification nor a graduate degree are required for a career in event management. However, graduates interested in career advancement may pursue voluntary certification with an organization such as the Convention Industry Council (CIC). Started in 1985, the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a CIC program widely recognized by the business meetings and conventions industry.
Online bachelor's degrees in hospitality management are a more common option for those interested in event planning. Internships are available and students gain the skills to manage budgets, organize staff and utilize marketing principles.