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“I am not a party planner!”: setting a baseline for event planners' professional identity construction before and during COVID-19

Sandra Sun-Ah Ponting (L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights

ISSN: 2514-9792

Article publication date: 22 February 2021

Issue publication date: 14 May 2021




The event management (EM) industry has attempted to elevate the professional status of event professionals. Contributing to these efforts, this study explores the professional identity (PID) construction process of event professionals. To facilitate the relevance of the PID construction process before the COVID-19 pandemic, it includes the impact of COVID-19 on event professionals' PID constructions.


Using narrative inquiry as the methodological approach, the study includes 18 semistructured interviews with event professionals before COVID-19 and additional 14 interviews during COVID-19. A narrative framework was developed to analyze the data.


The results include five significant themes highlighting the imperative role of agency in PID construction. Before the pandemic, event professionals pointed to self-driven pride and social-driven stigmatization as a part of PID narratives. Before and during the pandemic, profession-driven professional status recognition was significant. During the pandemic, situational reality-driven work skills and community-driven commitment became central to PID narratives.

Practical implications

The findings suggest the need for the EM industry to harness a collective PID. Specifically, given the community-building role professional associations played during the pandemic, associations can take part in leveraging a PID that connects core values.


This study contributes to the EM literature by using PID, a novel construct in EM research, to develop a baseline for event professional PIDs in changing environments; this functions as a platform for the EM profession to create a shared collective identity.



The author would like to thank Dr. Alana Dillette for her assistance with interviewing six industry professionals during the pandemic.


Ponting, S.S.-A. (2021), "“I am not a party planner!”: setting a baseline for event planners' professional identity construction before and during COVID-19", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 205-223.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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