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Since you’re reading this, I’m sure the thought of becoming an Event Planner has crossed your mind more than once. Do you have what it takes to be one? Do you think you would enjoy planning a social event or a large-scale conference?
Event planning is an exciting and rewarding field but don’t be misled that it is easy. Far from it! This job was listed as one of the most stressful jobs in America in 2019. If you still feel you have the skills of being super organised with excellent communication and negotiation skills with a flair for creativity, read on.
An Event Planner is the one who works directly with the client to decide on venue, purpose of the event, budget, the events’ goal, theme, decor, guest list, menu and layout. An Event Coordinator on the other hand is a position junior to a Planner and is the ‘doer’ who would be responsible for negotiating with the vendors, booking the venue, organising F&B, designing of invitations & social media posts, staffing, safety & security, AV & any tech, decor, set up & take down and any other related arrangements, sometimes including travel arrangements for attendees or artistes. If there isn’t a Coordinator, then those tasks would fall on the shoulders of the Planner. Just filling a venue with balloons or flowers does not constitute being an Event Planner.
Be prepared to commit to long working hours and working over holidays or weekends especially if social events are what you would rather concentrate on as most of those would be during times when people have time off. To succeed you have to be willing to put in some hard work to create flawless events each and every time. Remember that you will always be judged by your last event so if things go badly, it will affect your reputation.
Develop Skills: every profession requires certain skill sets and being an Event Planner is no exception. Check if you already have these or look into working to acquire them.
Communication – the ability to communicate clearly and effectively both written and verbal
Negotiation – the ability to negotiate with vendors for service contracts and get quality products and services at good market prices
Work Ethic – sincerity on the job
Troubleshooting – come up with plausible and creative solutions to any problem especially at the last minute if things go wrong
Computer literate – knowledge and proficiency using spreadsheet and project management software
Organised – be great at organising tasks and multi tasking when needed
Team Player – events definitely require interactions so being a team player is of paramount importance
Flexible – as in pretty much anything, things are bound to go wrong sometimes. Being flexible and working through issues or being able to calmly resolve them is crucial
Budgeting – no event has a blank cheque so having the ability to cleverly manage all aspects within an allocated budget are important
Time Management – manage all tasks within defined time frames to avoid delays when organising any event
Creativity – this is not a skill that’s easy to cultivate since in most cases either you have it or you don’t but try and nurture your inventiveness
Obtain Work Experience: getting into any profession generally means starting at the bottom
Internship – get your foot in the door even if you get paid a measly stipend or nothing at all. Learn the event planning process and get some experience in the field. You could even consider volunteering at hotel events or exhibition centres to get an insight into how things work
Entry level jobs – after the internship try and get an entry level job and work your way up. This will also get you into the detailed day-to-day activities giving more insight
Start small – get involved with smaller events to start with, meetings or forums before branching out into large conferences, weddings or such
Network – if available locally, join an organization or club for event or meeting professionals. If not, look online and join a group and get involved in discussions to learn more.
Earn Certification: there are numerous event or meeting professional certifications available and you can decide which is suitable depending on your preferred career path. Most will require some work experience as part of the qualification to enrol. Some countries may not require such qualifications as mandatory to be part of the industry however improving your knowledge is always a bonus so consider earning a certification.
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)
Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)
Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE)
Global Certification in Professional Events (GCPE)
Get a Bachelors Degree: this is not mandatory by any means however some companies prefer a Bachelors degree in one of the following disciplines.
Final Thoughts: being an Event Planner can be an exciting and challenging job albeit stressful at times however if it’s something you are genuinely excited about, go for it!
Becoming a professional Event Planner takes time so start off as a Coordinator to gain more insight and experience.
Some countries allow event planners to practice their profession without any certification whereas others may require certification as mandatory. Please verify the requirements locally wherever it is that you plan to set up a business eventually.