The volunteering is what I've found is the most crucial to breaking into the event planning world, so that's great that you're doing that! I had the same problem with the hotel thing. There is only 1 hotel in my town that has a conference center and needs an event staff, but they weren't hiring. I think you might have better luck going through a non-profit organization. There are several of them in most cities, so you'll be more likely to get a job through one of those.