The event planning industry has grown significantly in the last decade.
According to recent research by Dr. Joe Goldblatt, investment in special events worldwide exceeds $500 billion annually.
Goldblatt is founder of the International Special Events Society (ISES), founding director of the Program in Event Management at The George Washington University, and co-author of The International Dictionary of Event Management.
“Suffice to say, the market is big enough to validate any effort,” – Goldblatt.
” If you’re working in a special events area, there are plenty of ways to expand. If you’re just entering the profession, there’s a huge, very lucrative market waiting for you .”
What we will talk about?
- Target market
- Start-up costs
- Income and Billing
- Marketing and Resources
According to Goldblatt’s research, profits in this industry continue to rise.
Until a few years ago the average profit margin for an event planning entrepreneur was around 15 percent. Her most recent studies show that profit margins today can reach up to 40 percent.
He attributes the good health of the industry to several factors, including the trend for companies to outsource their meeting planning activities.
And since we are not exactly talking about a high-tech company that needs to get a team of programmers, then you can start without much money .
WHAT IS EVENT PLANNING?
This question really breaks down into two questions: What kind of events are we talking about? And what is event planning?
First thing’s first. In general, special events occur for the following purposes:
- Celebrations (fairs, weddings, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries)
- Educational (conferences, meetings, graduations)
- Promotions (product launches, political rallies, fashion shows)
- Commemorations (memorials, civic events)
This list is actually not that extensive, but as the examples illustrate, special events can be business related, social events, or some combination of both.
Now let’s move on to the second question: What is event planning?
Event planners can handle any or all of the following tasks related to an event:
- conduct research
- Create and design the format of the event
- find the place
- Organize food, decorations and entertainment
- Plan transportation to and from the event
- Send invitations to attendees
- Organize the necessary accommodations for attendees
- Coordinate the activities of the event staff
- On-site supervision
- Carrying out evaluations of the event
The number of activities your company can participate in will depend on the size and type of the particular event, which, in turn, will depend on the specialization you choose.
WHY DO PEOPLE HIRE EVENT PLANNERS?
This question has a simple answer: Individuals often find that they lack the experience and time to plan their events on their own.
Independent planners can step in and give these special events the attention they deserve.
WHO CAN BECOME AN EVENT PLANNER?
Planners are often people just starting out in a particular area related to special events.
Business owner Martin Van Keken ran a successful catering business before he decided to plan full events. And many entrepreneurs have similar stories.
This explains why planners often not only coordinate entire events but may also provide one or more services for those events.
Entrepreneurs in the event industry may also have started planning events for other companies before deciding to go into business for themselves.
Joyce Barnes-Wolff led internal event logistics for a retail chain for 11 years and then worked for another planning company before striking out on her own.
IMPORTANCE OF GETTING CERTIFIED
Consider getting a degree or certificate from a local university in event planning or management.
There are various colleges and universities that offer educational opportunities in this field.
Consider training constantly to become a CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) or CMP (Certified Meeting Planner). Many corporations and individual contractors often look for these designations when hiring planners.
Because of the research and study that is required to become a CSEP or CMP, clients know that these planners are professionals.
The Corporate Market
Broadly speaking, there are two markets for event planning services: corporate and social.
The term ” corporate ” includes not only corporations, but also charities and non-profit organizations.
These charities organize fundraising events, receptions and gala athletic competitions, among others, to broaden their public support base and raise funds.
Hundreds of such events take place each year, and while the big ones require specialized planning expertise, you may be able to find smaller local events to get you started.
Companies for their part organize trade fairs, conventions, corporate celebrations, parties and various meetings for your staff or members of the board of shareholders.
There is a huge market for these types of events . According to the Convention Industry Council’s 2012 Economic Significance Study, 1.83 million corporate/trade meetings, trade shows, conventions, etc. they took place only in the US
The Social Market
Social events include weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, quinceañeras, children’s parties , etc.
You can decide to handle all of 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 grow in the coming years as baby boomers mature.
This group has children getting married, parents celebrating their golden anniversaries, and their own silver wedding anniversaries to commemorate.
How much money will you need to start your event planning business?
This will depend on the cost of living in the segment you focus your business on and whether you will be working from home or renting office space.
It will also depend, to a lesser extent, on your own tastes and lifestyle.
Keep in mind that while working from home you will keep your costs low and you can start your event planning business small and gradually grow.
A high-end business requires office space, employing at least a full-time junior planner and part-time accountant, as well as temporary employees who handle administrative work and can help set up logistics for various events.
Both owners will get their income from the net profit before taxes.
Few, if any, event planners work formal 9-5 hours.
By its very nature, planning tends to involve evenings, weekends, holidays, and sometimes even specific seasons.
The time you must commit to work will depend, once again, on the specialization you choose. As a general rule, social events involve more weekends and holidays than corporate events.
Some areas of the country and some types of events have “high” and “low” seasons. However, regardless of your specialization (with the exception of small children’s parties), you should be prepared to work at least a few nights while coordinating and supervising events.
However, the planning of these events will be carried out mainly during business hours.
These are the main tasks that you will have to develop as an event planner:
The best way to reduce risk (whatever the type) is to do your homework.
For large events, research may mean making sure there is a demand for the event by conducting surveys, interviews, or focus group research.
If you’re new to the planning industry, research may mean finding out as much as you can about providers.
Research may also mean talking to other planners who have produced events similar to the one you’re working on. Or else you’ll end up reading about customization and etiquette, especially if you’re not familiar with a particular type of event.
Whatever type of event you’re planning, your research should includeAsk your customer lots of questions and write down the answers.
Interviewing a client may not be the first thing on your mind as part of an investigation. However, asking too few questions, or not listening properly to a customer’s responses, can compromise the success of the event you are planning.
Your creativity comes into play in the design phase of event planning, during which the overall “feel” and “look” of the event is outlined.
This is the time to brainstorm, either alone or with your employees.
This is also the time to pull out and review your idea file. (You do have one, don’t you? If you don’t, read on and take notes.)
Don’t forget to refer to your notebook to review the answers the client gave you to the questions you asked them in the research phase.
These answers, especially the one regarding the budget of the event, will help you thoroughly check each idea to see if it is feasible, preferably before suggesting it to the client.
Once you’ve interviewed your client and done some preliminary brainstorming, you should have enough information to prepare a proposal.
Keep in mind that producing a proposal is time-consuming and potentially expensive, especially if it includes photos or sketches.
Keep in mind that only the largest companies that produce high-end events can afford to offer clients free proposals.
You should set a consultation fee (approximately $150 suggested), which can be applied to a client’s event if he or she hires you.
During this decision-intensive phase, you’ll be renting the venue, hiring vendors, and dealing with more details than you can imagine. 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 behalf of the client) with whom you will discuss all important decisions.
Having a designated person helps ensure that the lines of communication are kept open.
Also, social events in particular sometimes suffer from ” too many cooks ” syndrome. Having a designated contact prevents you from finding yourself caught in the middle of disagreements between event organizers.
Generally speaking, the larger the event, the more lead time is required to plan it.
Major conventions are planned years in advance. While you may not be hosting events on such a large scale, you should set aside at least a few months for events like corporate picnics, reunions, or large parties.
Once you have outlined your initial plans, turn your attention to each of the activities that are part of the overall event.
At this point, your goal is to ensure everyone is on the same page. Good communication skills are important. Make sure all vendors have at least a general idea of the general schedule of events.
More importantly, providers must be clear about what is expected of them and when. Vendor arrival times should be listed in contracts, but check anyway.
This is a “check and review” period.
Make sure all your staff members know their roles.
The biggest test, and in a sense the most important, of an event’s success is customer satisfaction. The goal, of course, is to end up with a client singing your praises all over the street, shouting from the rooftops how good your work is.
This is the client who will hire you again and who will provide you with that famous word of mouth advertising.
But there are also other ways to assess the success of an event:
You can hire an event planning consultant; have someone who throws extremely successful parties watch your event; plan a post-event panel discussion with your employees; get feedback from other industry professionals working at the event, such as the caterer or waiter; or even survey guests at or after the event.
INCOME AND BILLING
The goal of pricing a service is to increase labor and material costs enough to cover overhead and generate an acceptable profit.
First-time business owners often fail because they unknowingly price their services too low. According to industry expert and author Dr. Joe Goldblatt, fees are generally determined by three factors:
1. Market segment served
Social events have a different rate structure than corporate events.
In the social events industry, planners typically receive a fee for their services, plus a percentage of some or all of the vendor’s charges.
Both streams of income produce enough income to make a profit. However, in the corporate events industry, planners generally charge a fee for their services, plus a handling fee for each item they hire.
For example, a planner buys flowers from a florist, increases his margin (usually 15 percent), and charges the customer that amount.
Another possibility is a flat fee, or “project fee,” which is often used when the event is large and the corporation wants to be given a quote that ” doesn’t exceed ” its budget.
2. Geographic location
Rates are higher in some regions than others. This difference reflects the variation in the cost of living or because you will need to temporarily move with a part of your team to the event location.
Also, areas of the country that have well-defined seasons base their prices in part on what season they are in.
3. Experience and reputation of the event planner
If you’re just starting out in the industry, it’s reasonable to charge less for your planning services as you gain experience.
You may ask, how are the service fees mentioned above calculated?
The event planners we interviewed value their service fees (the total cost to the client) using the “cost-plus” method.
They contract for the labor, supplies and materials involved in producing an event and charge their clients a service fee of 10 to 20 percent of the total cost of the event, with 15 percent being a rough average.
MARKETING AND RESOURCES
Print advertising covers a wide range, from a free or inexpensive ad in a newspaper or magazine to an ad in a glossy national publication costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Even today in the digital age, most event planning entrepreneurs agree that an ad in the local newspaper does a great job of selling.
Special sections for weddings and brides-to-be are published in local newspapers from time to time (perhaps quarterly). These are good showcases to promote your event planning business if you plan on doing any kind of wedding consulting.
Dallas planner David Granger agrees. The problem, he points out, is that customers need to see what you do, and an advertisement won’t do it.
He recommends creating groups on social media, lots of videos, and making friends in the industry. In that way, he says, ” People know you and trust you. They want honesty and integrity .”
The Internet can help your business in two ways. If people know you and what services you offer, they may refer businesses to you or use your service themselves.
Also, networking with hotels, caterers, etc. will give you the opportunity to meet some of the people whose services you may need when planning events.
Although networking and word of mouth are the industry’s most common strategies for acquiring customers, traditional forms of advertising have their uses.
A distinctive business card or brochure sent to a mailing list or to local businesses can attract new customers.
A small ad in a local business magazine can help build name recognition. A website on the Internet or your Facebook page can attract customers who do not respond to other means.
- The Art of the Event by James Monroe and Robert Kates
- Become an Event Planner: The three steps needed to start your career in event planning by Sirena Evans
- The Business of Event Planning: Behind the Scenes Secrets of Successful Special Events by Judy Allen
- Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraisers, Conferences, Conventions, Incentives and Other Special Events by Judy Allen
- The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Meeting and Event Planning, Second Edition, by Robin Craven and Lynn Johnson Golabowski
- Special Events: Creating and Sustaining a New World for Celebration by Dr. Joe Goldblatt
Event Planning Software
There are hundreds of types of event planning software, from basic, inexpensive packages to software developed for planning and managing large-scale conventions and trade shows.
This software ranges in price from $100 to thousands of dollars. As your business grows, you will need to determine the type of software you will need.
Check out Capterra for a full breakdown of the best event management software products like Eventbrite, Regpack, Grenadine Events, SimpleTix, and many others.