Whether you are organizing a corporate seminar, political fund raiser or business trade show, the secret to success lies in the planning. While it’s perfectly natural to want to be as hands on as possible, it can be difficult to tackle the entire project on your own. Planning any corporate or public event takes a great degree of professional expertise, and hiring an experienced event planner is the first step along the path to success. But what should you look for in an event planner, and how can you separate the amateurs from the professionals? The following tips should serve as a guide to choosing the best event planner, and event hosting service, for your next important gathering.
Interviews and Consultations
Before settling on an event planner, you will first want to set up a few interviews. Many professional event planners will offer free consultations, allowing you the opportunity to meet with them and discuss your ideas for the event in question. This is the perfect time to interview the prospective event planner, and learn what you can about their experience in the industry and their track record with events similar to the one you are proposing. A good event planner should be able to offer examples of past successes, recommendations from other clients and some background on their career as an event planning specialist. This is also a good opportunity to gauge the planners communication skills, and to evaluate whether you can work closely with them. It is also your chance to make certain that they understand what you want from the event itself.
When interviewing a potential event planner keep these points in mind:
- What experience do they have, and how long have they been in the business
- How many events have they organized that are similar to the one you are planning
- Do they have adequate experience with large gatherings, or do they specialize in smaller events
- Can they provide recommendations from past clients
- Do they have event planning liability insurance
- Do they have a preferred list of venues and vendors that they have worked closely with in the past
These questions will help you decide on the most suitable event planner for your project. During this first consultation, do not be afraid to ask any questions that come to mind. Remember that they are, in essence, applying to you for a job. Don’t hesitate to ask them why you should hire their firm over one of the others you are considering.
Brass Tacks – What Does the Event Planner Offer in Services
It is important to know what services the event planner you are hiring can offer. Before signing any contract, you will want to make sure that they can fully handle any contingencies, and can supply everything that is needed to make your event a success. This includes the securing of an appropriate venue, as well as furnishings, decorations, audio/visual equipment, catering and support staff. The event planner you hire should have a good working relationship with local venues and vendors, and should be ready with recommendations on where to stage your event, and what will be needed to make that event run like clockwork. A good event planner should be quick to offer ideas and plans for your event, and should be open to your suggestions and demands.
The Nitty Gritty – Cost
Budgetary concerns are paramount when planning any event, and you will want to question any prospective event planner about the total costs associated with their services. You also need to know when payment is due, what forms of payment are accepted and whether you will be responsible for paying the vendors and caterers separately or if they are included in the overall fees for the planner’s services.
Some things to keep in mind when discussing the cost of your event:
- Does the event planner charge a flat fee, or an hourly rate
- Will there be an additional fee for support staff
- Are travel expenses included, or will they billed separately
- When is payment due
- What forms of payment are accepted
The most important thing to consider when hiring an event planner is your comfort level. Do they instill confidence? Are they easy to communicate with, and do they understand what you want out of the event you are organizing? If you can’t answer yes to these questions, it’s time to interview another service.