What I learned as an Event Planner: 4 Insider Tips on Navigating the Business
Whether it is planning for your big day or planning a corporate holiday party, throwing an impressive bash has become more fashionable than ever. With this rise in popularity, the demand for skilled event planners has skyrocketed. According to the US News and World Report, event planning was listed as one of the top 50 Careers of 2011 based on employment outlook, growth projections and quality of life. Among the reasons for this distinction are the significant increase in the number of such jobs as well as the professional growth opportunities, global reach and better pay that come with a career in event planning.
As someone who spent three years working in the event planning industry, I would like to share my experience and insights. I began this journey working as an intern for a local museum. Before receiving this internship, I knew very little about the event planning industry, but I kept an open mind, ready to learn. This internship led to an invitation to remain at the museum in a professional capacity. I was hired as the Special Events Associate where it was my job to help plan and staff the events. The experience of working as an event planner taught me a lot about myself and helped me grow personally as well as professionally. Through this amazing opportunity, I gained self-confidence, became more organized, and improved my communication skills.
The complexity of planning an event took me by surprise. In much the same way that a theater play requires a large amount of behind-the-scenes work prior to the performance, a well-planned event also requires a lot of unseen attention to detail before the big day.
From my experience, I have developed four tips that are vital for any emerging event planner.
1. Use the Phone for initial Conversation
My employer was adamant about calling potential event leads. When people requested information about hosting their event at the museum, she would always call them directly to discuss our service options. It was important that they hear from a live person versus an automated e-mail or recording. Potential clients loved hearing from us, and the personal touch encouraged them to come into the museum for a tour. Phone calls might take longer, but it is well worth the extra time and effort to make that connection with a potential client.
2. Have In-Person Meetings with Event Contacts
Events are stressful before they can be fun! Getting to know your clients ahead of time can greatly ease their tensions about the big day. Not only that, it makes it easier for you to get all your questions answered. Meeting with the client in person ensures you have a clear understanding of their wants and needs. As the professional, your main priority is creating an event so fantastic that they are not only glad that they hired you, but also eager to recommend your services to others.
Staying organized as an event planner is key! Itineraries not only keep all the details together, but they also help everyone who is working the event know what they must do as well as what others are doing. This keeps everyone on the same page (literally!) Floor plans are equally as important because they illustrate how the event should be set up. Taking the time to perfect these sheets goes a long way toward a smooth operation.
4. Send a Thank You
Just because the event is over, it does not mean you are done. Thanking the client lets them know how much you appreciate their business, and their trust in choosing you to host their special occasion. Sending a thank you is that “cherry on top of the sundae” and ends the client’s tenure with you on a positive note ensuring a bright future for your business.
The event planning business is a rocky slope to navigate but with these four tips to guide you, success is not that far out of reach.