Lets breaks it down into two questions: What kinds of events are we talking about? And, what is event planning?
First things first. Generally speaking, special events occur for the following purposes:
- Celebrations (fairs, parades, weddings, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries)
- Education (conferences, meetings, graduations)
- Promotions (product launches, political rallies, fashion shows)
- Commemorations (memorials, civic events)
This list isn’t an exhaustive one, but as the examples illustrate, special events may be business related, purely social or somewhere in between.
Now we move to the second question: What is event planning? Planners of an event may handle any or all of the following tasks related to that event:
- Conducting research
- Creating an event design
- Finding a site
- 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
How many of these activities your business engages in will depend on the size and type of a particular event, which will, in turn, depend on the specialization you choose.
This is the cost you need to have to begin a business. So, 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.
Definitely, working from home will keep your costs low, you can’t start any but the smallest of event planning business on a shoestring.
As a general rule, social events involve more weekends and holidays than corporate events do. Some areas of the country and some types of events have “on” and “off” seasons. However, no matter what your specialization (with the exception of parties for young children), you can count on working at least some evenings as you coordinate and supervise events. The planning of those events, however, will be done mostly during business hours.
Tasks to be completed as an event planner
The following are the main tasks you’ll be completing as an event planner:
Research: The best way to reduce risk (whatever the kind) is to do your homework. For large events, research may mean making sure there’s a demand for the event by conducting surveys, interviews or focus group research.
If you’re new to the event planning industry, research may instead mean finding out all you can 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. Or you may find yourself reading up on issues of custom and etiquette, especially if you’re unfamiliar with a particular type of event.
Design: This is the time to brainstorm, either by yourself or with your employees.
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.
You can 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.
Proposal: Once you’ve interviewed the client and done some preliminary brainstorming, you should have enough information to prepare a proposal.
Organization: During this decision-intensive phase, you’ll rent the site, hire vendors and take care of more details than you might believe possible. You’ll be on the phone until your ear is numb. 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. You must a designated individual helps ensure that communication lines are kept open.
Coordination: 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. .
Evaluation and Feedback: 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.