Want to start your own event planning business? We present you with some helpful tips that will guarantee you huge success.
Starting a new business is definitely not an easy option or a “get rich quick” scheme. It is a high risk, but potentially high reward strategy over the long term, especially when planned well.
Are you daydreaming right now from your cube or home office about the notion of starting an event planning business? Perhaps you have been working in the events and meetings industry for several years and think that now is a good time to figure out how to be your own boss. Or maybe you have helped organize a few events in the past and feel that this could be your life’s passion.
These are all good reasons to pursue this profession. But anyone who contemplates the fantasy of starting their own business as an event planner must follow some important steps before they even begin to talk to clients.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What Is Event Planning?
- 2 Target Market
- 3 Benefits of Using an Event Management Company
- 4 The Responsibilities of an Event Planner
What Is Event Planning?
Event management, or event planning, is the coordinated effort behind planning, organizing, and executing various events or features.
Event management is a team effort and is not tied to any one individual. Although event planning companies always have someone in charge which could be you as the founder of the company, there is an understanding that true magic can’t be created without everyone working at a high standard.
Generally speaking, special events may be business-related, purely social, or somewhere in between. Special events occur for the following purposes, but are not limited to these:
- Celebrations (fairs, parades, weddings, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries)
- Education (conferences, corporate meetings, graduations)
- Promotions (product launches, sporting events, political rallies, fundraisers, fashion shows)
- Commemorations (memorials, civic events)
The long-term success of an event planning business will be based on the experience that the planner brings to his or her clients.
That means if you’re thinking about starting an event planning business, you should have a solid grasp of what an event planner does.
Broadly speaking, there are two markets for event planning services: corporate and social.
1. The Corporate Market
The term “corporate” includes not only companies but also charities and nonprofit organizations.
Charities and nonprofit organizations host gala fundraisers, receptions, and athletic competitions, among other events, to expand their public support base and raise funds.
Thousands of these events occur each year, and although the large ones require specialized event planning experience, you may find smaller local events to start out with.
Companies host trade shows, conventions, company picnics, holiday parties, and meetings for staff members, board members, or stockholders. There is a huge market for these types of events.
2. The Social Market
Social events include weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, Sweet 16 parties, children’s parties, reunions, and so on. You may decide to handle all these events or just specialize in one or more of them.
The market for social events, especially birthdays and anniversaries, is expected to continue to increase over the next few years, as baby boomers mature.
This group has children getting married, parents celebrating golden anniversaries, and their own silver wedding anniversaries to commemorate.
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Benefits of Using an Event Management Company
There are several specific advantages to be found in using an event management company. Although not all of these are exclusive to using a management company, there are a few singular options that can combine all of these benefits into a single source.
Individuals often find they lack the expertise and time to plan events themselves. Independent planners can step in and give these special events the attention they deserve.
This benefit forms the reason why there will always be demands for an event planner.
Due to the fact that there could be something going wrong during an event, using an event planning company reduced the risk of disappointing guests invited to the event.
This is so because planning companies are very familiar with the ins and outs, ups and downs that come with trying to put big moments together.
As a quality event management company, you are always coming armed with contingency plans in the event anything wants to go haywire. Just because something can go wrong doesn’t mean it has to diminish the evening.
Saving Time and Money
It can seem odd to recommend paying money to outsource your event planning on top of every other expense an event incurs, but doing so can be quite valuable.
Time is money therefore saving your potential clients the time of running around to arrange the event is worthwhile.
Event companies have numerous contacts and direct links with suppliers, performers, technicians, and more.
This allows you to get better deals on what your clients need and to do so in less time and at a reduced price since you are already regular customers. An example is party rentals companies.
Event planning companies thrive on creativity. Engaging one allows you to brainstorm more freely, think more broadly, and learn not only what can be possible but the precise way it can be carried out.
Being able to take energetic concepts and turn them into the real, magical moment is a huge part of making memorable events.
Access to Technology
Event planning companies love their equipment and take pride in using them, from the highest quality sound systems to the integrated and colored lighting options, spectacular views from widescreen displays with innovative set and stage design.
Working with a planning company gives the clients access to the full use of technology so any vision can be brought to life.
Even if you do not have them at the initial stage, you still have easy access to how you can get them, and with time you can have your own too.
Qualities of a Good Event Planner
The following are the qualities you need to possess or develop to be a good event planner. Make sure you have these solid skills before you embark on setting up an event planning business:
- Verbal and written communications
- Organization and time management
- Negotiation and budget management
- Good public relations
Since arranging and planning an event is collective team work, you and your team have the following duties to carry out:
- Listen closely to the client’s expectations including timeframe, budget, and event needs.
- Brainstorm options with the client and be able to incorporate their ideas and wishes. If something is genuinely not feasible, explain why and propose alternatives.
- Be open with the client and inform them of the status of preparations and the final plan for the event.
- Secure any necessary permits or licensing an event may call for.
- Provide high quality entertainment, experienced and skilled technical staff, and be flexible and ready to make adjustments as situations or circumstances dictate.
The Responsibilities of an Event Planner
The following tasks and duties are some of the core responsibilities of good event planners.
Market and Competitor Research
The best way to reduce risk is to do your homework. This type of research is carried out before the establishment of the business.
The first thing you need to establish is if there is a definite requirement for the services that you want to offer. Instead of just believing it is a good idea you need to do some actual research to confirm this.
This information can be difficult to find, and you will need to refer to lots of different sources to try to get a reliable picture.
Look into public data, reports, and analysis on the web, talk to people and try to undertake a focus group and individual phone calls with those that you are looking to develop relationships with, to determine evidence of a need.
Find out about the number of competitors existing in your area. Note the similarities and differences in the services they offer and compare them to your business idea.
Analyze and monitor the number of tenders and opportunities issued for event planning services over a certain time period.
Speak to companies who issue these types of opportunities to determine their frustrations are with the current offering and what is lacking
For large events, research may mean making sure there’s a demand for the event by conducting surveys, interviews, or focus group research.
It will also include finding out about vendors and suppliers. Research also may mean talking to other planners who have produced events similar to the one on which you’re working.
Another type of research to be carried out is when you have a client. In order to get the scope of the event, he is proposing to host your research, which should include asking your client a lot of questions and writing down the answers.
Interviewing a client may not be what you immediately think of as research. However, asking too few questions, or not listening adequately to a client’s answers, can compromise the success of the event you plan.
Creating an Event Design
Your creativity comes most into play in the design phase of event planning, during which you sketch out the overall “feel” and “look” of the event.
This is the time to brainstorm, either by yourself or with your employees. It’s also the time to pull out and look through your idea file.
Don’t forget to consult your notebook for the client’s answers to the questions you asked in the research phase.
These responses, especially the one regarding the event budget, will help you thoroughly check each idea for feasibility, preferably before suggesting it to the client.
Once you’ve interviewed the client and done some preliminary brainstorming, you should have enough information to prepare a proposal.
Be aware that the production of a proposal is time-consuming and potentially expensive, especially if you include photographs or sketches. Note that only the larger companies producing high-end events can afford to provide clients with free proposals
During this decision-intensive phase, you’ll rent the site, hire vendors, and take care of more details than you might believe possible.
But before you do any of this, make sure you have a contact person either the client or someone acting on the client’s behalf with whom you’ll discuss all major decisions.
Having a designated individual helps ensure that communication lines are kept open. Having one designated contact helps you avoid being caught in the middle of disagreements between event participants.
After you’ve made the initial plans, turn your attention to each of the activities that form a part of the overall event. At this point, your goal is to ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength.
Good communication skills are important. Make sure all vendors have at least a general idea of the overall event schedule. Even more important, vendors should be clear about what’s expected of them, and when.
Vendor arrival times should appear in the contracts but verify those times anyway. This is a “check and rechecks” period.
Make sure all your staff members know their roles. However, Pay vendor bills in a timely way because the vendors you hire are a major part of the experience your attendees have. It’s important to keep your accounts with catering, security, photographers, and party equipment rentals in good standing.
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The obvious, and in one sense, the most important test of an event’s success is customer satisfaction. The goal, of course, is to end up with a client who will sing your praises up and down the street, shouting it from rooftops.
This is the client who will hire you again, and who will provide that famous word-of-mouth advertising for you.
- Other responsibilities
- Finding a venue for the event
- Arranging for food, decor, and entertainment
- Planning transportation to and from the event
- Sending invitations to attendees
- Arranging any necessary accommodations for attendees
- Coordinating the activities of event personnel
- Supervising at the site
- Conducting evaluations of the event
One question that may have been roaming your mind is: how much money will you need to start your event planning business?
That will depend on the cost of living in the area your business serves and whether you work from home or rent office space. It will also depend, to a lesser degree, on your own taste and lifestyle choices.
Keep in mind that while working from home will keep your costs low, as you may have noted earlier, event planning is collective teamwork.
So include in your startup capital the cost of paying your staff for the first few months before your first assignment.
The goal in pricing a service is to mark up your labor and material costs sufficiently to cover overhead expenses and generate an acceptable profit.
First-time business owners often fail because they unknowingly priced their services too low. You need to give thought to your pricing and fees so you know how to answer questions about your costs. You need to know the specific details of an event project to quote accurately
Research your competitors to find out how they charge and get an idea of pricing. It can be very difficult to gain this information, but if you can get an understanding of how your closest rivals price their services, it will be very revealing indeed.
When you get an inquiry, make sure you ask lots of questions and get all the details you need to understand the project before quoting.
Every event is different. Create a list of frequently asked questions to ask anyone interested in your services. Takedown all the details to enable you to calculate and create a proposal to share with them
Most event planners charge based on the following:
- Flat fee
- Percentage of expenses
- Hourly rate
- Percentage of expenses plus hourly rate
- Commissionable rate
You may also want to offer set packages or have an introductory offer to entice people.
You can opt for a display advertisement. If you choose a larger advertising space, be sure to include your logo. You may also want to consider advertising in your local newspaper and in maiden magazines.
Many papers periodically (perhaps quarterly) publish special sections for brides- and grooms-to-be. These are good vehicles for promoting your event planning business if you plan to do any wedding consulting.
Do not underestimate the power of networking and making friends in the industry. Networking can help your business in two ways.
If people have met you and know what services you offer, they may refer business to you or use your service themselves. Furthermore, networking with hotels, caterers, and so on will give you a chance to meet some of the people whose services you may need as you plan events.
Although networking and word-of-mouth are the most common industry strategies for acquiring clients, traditional forms of advertising do have their uses. A distinctive card or brochure sent to a mailing list or to local businesses may attract new clients
Sort out your online presence by creating your website and social media accounts. Launch a website for your business.
You can also create an application that works on smartphones to assist with booking you for a service and that can equally assist you the owner in planning different events successfully.
It is also worth reserving the handles on social media channels too, even if you don’t yet want to start completing your profile details actively posting from the accounts. Aim for the same handles across all networks for consistency.
Populate your website and social media channels as soon as you can. Get friends and family to follow you initially to boost your follower numbers on social media.
You can also employ the service of social media boosters to increase your online presence. Start sharing useful content to start building more followers.
As you increase your online presence, you will need to protect your brand via trademarks, patents, or copyrights, whichever route is relevant to your product or service.
Take specialist advice on these matters to ensure that you are protected against theft and plagiarism.
Starting an event planning business takes vision, passion, and tenacity. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, especially with smart planning.
You don’t need money to start an event management business. You need a good plan.
However, as the business grows, there is wisdom in purchasing some equipment you will normally rent and are useful for all occasions. That way you increase your profit margin.
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