Events are a powerful form of interaction – they bring people physically and/or virtually together for a specific reason at a specific time. The most important step is figuring out how to start an event planning business. Think about all the events you’ve attended in your life: weddings, dinners, concerts, rallies, the list goes on.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the event industry is estimated to grow up to 44% by 2020. That’s a huge indicator of the power events continue to have in our lives.
Behind the Scenes: What You Need to be an Event Planner
The most important person in every event is the event planner. As the brains of a very complicated show, the event planner needs to be a literal mastermind. Let’s take a look at a few essential skills event planners should have:
- Impressive (Amazing) organizational skills
- The ability to multitask
- Good communication skills
- Excellent management and delegation skills
- Discipline and time management
- Extreme attention to detail
- Creative improvisational and effective problem-solving skills
- The ability to work under very high pressure
- Self-belief that you can become an event planner
This list may seem daunting – it’s definitely a very demanding job – but it’s also a very fulfilling role, and also one that prepares you for a lot of other stresses and situations in life.
Here’s another secret, it gets easier with experience. If you’re just starting out as an event planner, keep your first few events simple. Events are often like managing a theatre show with a pack of dogs as your stars. They usually know what they’re supposed to do, but sometimes the most unexpected problems crop up – one dog goes potty on stage, or another one gets distracted by a squirrel. After running a few shows, you’ll be able to better anticipate what problems might crop up, and prepare for it.
How Much Can You Earn?
The average event planner in the US can earn about $45,000 annually, with the lowest being $29,000 annually and the crème de la crème going as high as $74,000, according to a survey by Payscale. Location seems to be the biggest factor for differences in pay scale, followed by career length.
What Education Do You Need?
A Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality, Communications, Public Relations or any other related field are the commonly mentioned requirements. However, this is one of those fields where it’s possible for performance and portfolio to outweigh certification. A successful event, or better yet, a long track record of successful events is the best recommendation for any event planner.
How Can I Find New Clients?
There are a number of ways to build your client base as an event planner.
If you’re just starting out, “helping out” at an event is a good way to show them what you can do. Always having a business card ready. If you’ve given them a good taste of your skills, they’ll know where to contact you for future events. Be careful not to do too many of these – remember at the end of the day your time is valuable!
Nothing sells an event planner better than word of mouth – people are inclined to place more trust in you if they know other people have had good experiences with you. If you’ve done a string of successful events, be sure to document them wherever possible.
How to Plan an Event
Every event is different, but here are a few “universal” guidelines on how to be an event planner:
- Establish the Objective of the Event – What is the goal? This needs to be clear so you know the direction in which you’re heading.
- Get Your Team Together–A good team is vital to your sanity and success. Assign responsibility to key people for every aspect of the event, and make sure they know what they need to do when they need to do it, and how they need to do it.
- Set a Date & Location – Be realistic with this one. The recent Fyre Festival was a glorious example of what happens when you underestimate the time needed to plan an event and venue challenges. Also, always scout your location. ALWAYS.
- Get the Word Out – It’s time to market your event! Go wild on social media, tell the world, tell the press, and get creative. Some events sell themselves, some need a bit of a push. Determine the attractiveness of your event, and work accordingly.
- Have a Master Plan –Everyone needs to be on the same page, so one master document with everything everyone needs to know laid out clearly: venue, a timing of event activities, an order of activities, guest lists, etc. Send it out early to your team, so they can prepare for their own roles, and assist their colleagues if needed.
- Be 100% There – As the event planner, you will be the master orchestrator, and also the one everyone will turn to when problems (inevitably) crop up during the event itself. Make sure you and your team are on top of everything. The more problems you anticipate, the more problems you are prepared for.
- Do a Post-mortem – At the end of the event, always hold a meeting with your team. This is where you analyze the event. Did it go well? Did it fail? What went right, and what went wrong? Knowing what works and what doesn’t will make you more prepared for the next event.
How to Work with Customers
A good event manager gives customers what they want. A great event planner will be able to advise a customer on the best way to run an event without losing sight of their needs and goals. It’s important to know what the client’s end goal is, and to know what can and cannot be delivered. Most clients will appreciate honest advice – they’re paying you for your expertise. Even if a client doesn’t, a good event planner should maintain their politeness and professionalism and do their best to come up with a solution. After all, the show must go on and this is part of how to make money as an event planner.
How to Manage Clients
Managing clients in any industry can be tricky, but knowing as much as possible about the client’s objective and vision will help you to work better. Also, be realistic about your abilities – it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver. Discover other tips on how to plan your event by reading further.
Wrapping it Up
If you plan to be an event planner, talk to people in the industry so you have a better idea of what you’re getting into. Event Planning can be challenging, exhausting, and frustrating. It can also be extremely fulfilling and rewarding. One thing’s for sure, it’s never boring!