What is an Event Planner?
Life is filled with various milestones and special occasions from birthdays to weddings to baby showers. In some cases, those special occasions are marked with a party or organized event, which is where an event planner comes in.
An event planner is an individual that organizes, designs, and runs various types of functions and events from weddings to corporate events. Both small and large details go into planning an event. Event planners take care of everything from the concept of the event to the cleanup and everything in between. They may be involved with all different types of events, such as parties, fundraisers, and conferences. Event planners may be self-employed or work for companies, corporations, or event planning firms.
What Does an Event Planner Do?
Planning a special event, such as a party, may sound fun. But being a professional event planner is also hard work. Event planners handle all the details of the event. The exact duties may vary depending on the type of event being planned. But regardless of the occasion, several things go into planning an event. Below are the common responsibilities of an event planner.
One of the first responsibilities is to design the event. Event planners need to communicate with their clients, ask questions and run ideas by them to work out details.
Event design may vary depending on the input from the client. But it often involves scouting and selecting the right location or venue, planning decorations and in some cases, coming up with a theme. Event planners also deal with the small details related to an event, such as selecting the style of tableware, centerpieces, and other details to make sure everything is perfect.
A big part of the job of an event planner is to solicit bids, hire, and coordinate and supervisor all the vendors involved in an event. Depending on the type and size of an event, exact duties may vary. But usually, event planners hire catering crews, entertainment or speakers, and transportation. Depending on the event, planners may also need to hire bakers, bartenders, and decorating staff. In some cases, planners may invite special guests and manage the invitation list.
Event planners also often deal with the financial aspect of planning an event. Managing and overseeing the budget for an event involves more than just writing checks to vendors. For example, managing finances may include confirming a budget, negotiating contracts, and finding creative ways to handle extra expenses when they come up. Event planners also make sure they track all expenses and stay within the client’s budget.
Certain types of events may require planners to do promotional work or marketing. For example, a fundraising event may require promotional activities, such as writing press releases, social media campaigns, and networking to get the word out about an event.
Handle Details at the Event
The day of the event, the event planner is also on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly and as planned. For instance, they may coordinate with vendors to make sure all equipment and supplies have arrived. Event planners handle small and large details, such as making sure the tables are set properly, the food is hot, and the decorations are just right.
Why are Event Planners Important?
Organizing and running and an event involves many tasks and responsibilities that take a certain expertise and skill level. Event planners have the knowledge to plan, organize, and run an event.
Whether it is an anniversary party, a team-building conference, or a corporate event, planning and running an event can be stressful and time-consuming. Lots of planning and management goes into making an event go well. Companies and individuals may not have the time to get everything in place. They may also not have the knowledge and skills to keep everything organized.
The bottom line is event planners are needed to take the stress and work off the client. They handle all the details required behind the scenes to make an event go as envisioned.
What are the Types of Event Planners?
When you think of what an event planner does, you may think they mostly plan parties. But there are all types of event planners and specialists within the field. Although, it is not a complete list, below are the most common types of event planners.
Corporate Event Planner
Corporate event planners design and plan various types of events for companies, corporations, and businesses. There are several types of events that a corporate event planner may be involved with. For example, corporations may have motivational activities, team-building events, and conferences.
Educational and Nonprofit Event Planner
Educational and nonprofit event planners organize events for organizations, such as schools, charities, and nonprofit agencies. Responsibilities may include selling tickets to fundraisers, soliciting donations, and finding sponsors for the event.
Fashion Event Planner
A fashion event planner organizes events, such as fashion shows, store openings, and trade shows. Responsibilities may include hiring makeup artists, entertainment, and musicians. Depending on the type of fashion event, planners may also hire catering staff, plan a menu, and arrange for interviews for designers and models.
Kids Event Planner
Some event planners specialize in planning children’s events. Kid event planners organize and coordinate a variety of events geared towards children including birthday parties, baptisms, and graduation parties. Kid’s event planners need to understand what the latest fads and entertainment for children involves.
Online Event Planner
Online event planning is a relatively new area for event planners to specialize in. Online event planners may organize online events, such as fundraisers, social media campaigns, and product launches. A virtual event may not require the same duties as an in-person event. Online events often require event planners to be involved in promotion and marketing of the event.
Sports Event Planner
Sports event planners play a role in marketing for a team. They may also arrange the lodging for team, coordinate transportation, and run special team events for fans.
Wedding Event Planner
Wedding planners are one of the most common specialties for event planners. Wedding planners arrange the venue, entertainment, and catering. They may also organize transportation and other wedding details.
Where are the Working Conditions of an Event Planner?
It’s difficult to state the exact working conditions of an event planner since they can vary significantly. Some work may be performed in an office during typical business hours. But coordinating events may also require working long days and traveling to various locations. Many events may be held on weekends, evenings, or holidays.
Event planners may work outdoors if they are running certain types of events. The job may also call for spending a lot of time on the phone and the computer to coordinate services.
What are the Requirements to Become an Event Planner?
There are no specific formal education requirements to work as an event planner. Individuals that are self-employed may be required to get a business license depending on the state they live in.
Although it may not be a requirement, most employers usually prefer to hire event planners that have at least an associate degree. The responsibilities of an event planner are becoming increasingly complex, which means formal education in a field related to event planning is helpful.
Someone interested in becoming an event planner may pursue a degree in event management. But keep in mind; degree options for those interested in working in event management also include a degree in hospitality management or business.
An associate degree in event management is considered an entry-level degree for the field. Usually, a high school diploma or GED is required for admission. Most event management associate degree programs take about two years of full-time study to complete.
Typical classes may include tourism and leisure management, accounting, and event planning and budgeting. Although the number of credits required to earn the degree can vary, most associate degree programs in event management require completion of 72 credits.
Bachelor degree programs in event management are also available. Admission requirements typically vary but include a high school diploma. Grade point average requirements for admission also vary by the school. Most bachelor’s degree programs in event management take about four years to complete and require about 130 credits.
Typical classes may include marketing, event protocol, and finance. Most event management bachelor’s degree programs also require completion of an internship in the field. Students may complete an internship at event management firms, large-scale hotel chains, or public relation agencies.
There are no specific master’s degree programs in event management. But those who want an advanced degree could benefit from a master’s degree in hotel and restaurant management or hospitality management.
Earning an event planner certification is another way to show expertise in the field. Although certification is not mandatory, it may improve employment possibilities and opportunities.
There are several professional organizations that offer certification in event planning. For example, the Events Industry Council offers a Certified Meeting Professional Certification. To earn the certification, applicants must have three years of professional experience in event planning and pass a written exam, which covers topics, such as strategic planning, risk management, and facility operation.
Another option is the Certified Government Meeting Professional Certification offered through the Society of Government Meeting Professionals. Certification can be earned after completing an online course and passing an exam.
The Convention Industry Council offers the Certified Special Events Professional Credential. It is for people that have at least three years of experience working in event planning. Applicants must pass a multiple-choice exam covering topics including developing an event plan, risk assessment, and budgeting.
What Do You Learn in an Event Management Degree?
The information learned in an event management degree program may vary depending on the school. Although it is not a complete list, typical courses may include the following:
- Hospitality Management: In a hospitality management class, students study the operations of hotels and resorts including staffing, security, and economics.
- Business Law: A business law class covers federal and state regulations for businesses, risk management, and business structures, such as corporations and partnerships. Topics covered also may include business ethics, contracts, and tax laws.
- Event Publicity: This course focuses on marketing and advertising for various types of events. Students analyze marketing strategies, learn about public relations and media options to promote an event.
- Financial Accounting and Budget Control: This class helps students learn how to develop a budget for services, production, and goods. Topics discussed may also include making smart purchasing decisions, cost and ratio analysis, and legal aspects of finance.
- Marketing: Students learn the process by which companies and businesses plan, analyze, and implement programs to attract target buyers. Discussion on how marketing effects the success of certain types of events may also be included.
- Event Protocol: The course helps students learn the various diplomatic, military and social protocols for various events. Discussion on the origin and meaning behind certain protocols may also be included.
- Health and Safety Management: A health and safety class discusses the health, security threats, and safety concerns at an event. Decreasing risks associated with an event as well as different security measures and health regulations is also taught.
- Event Operations and Management: In this course, students learn how to plan and operate events, such as professional meetings, trade show, and fundraisers. The focus is on developing methods of marketing, organizing, and promoting events.
- Project Management: Project management classes provide an overview of managing a wide variety of activities. The class covers determining the scope of your project, creating a project plan, and developing a budget.
- Advertising and Public Relations: Advertising is part of certain types of events. This class focuses on how to promote an event successfully. It may also cover audience research and using effective communication and advertising tools including television, print, and the internet.
- Event Risk Management: An event risk management class involves learning how to assess and analyze various factors related to an event, such as health factors, cost, and security issues. The course focuses on identifying, decreasing. and eliminating risks.
What Skills are Needed to be an Event Planner?
Event planning is a career that involves a vast amount of responsibilities, which can change from event to event. To be successful in the field, it’s helpful to have the following skills, traits, and qualities.
- Marketing and Public Relations Ability: Certain events require promotion and advertising to be successful. Event planners must have the understanding of how to market an event and get the word out. Public relation skills also include writing ability and networking skills.
- Knowledge of Business Law: Event planners coordinate the hiring and paying of vendors and talent participating in an event. They need to understand business law including fair hiring practices and contract laws.
- Proficiency in Event and Management Software: Event planning usually involves using various types of event management software. Planners must have the technical skills to work with software, such as spreadsheets, conference management tools, and marketing software.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Planning, organizing, and running events do not always go as envisioned. Event planners need to have excellent problem-solving skills. They need to be able to identify a problem and remedy it quickly.
- Technical Production Management Ability: Event planners should have technical production skills. Almost all types of events require some sort of lighting and sound design. Events may also have other technical elements including video presentations and staging design.
- Accounting and Budgeting Skills: Accounting and budgeting skills are a must for event planners. In addition to good math skills, planners must understand how to analyze, develop, and implement a budget while still meeting the client’s needs.
- Creativity: Event planners need to be involved in event concepts, decorating, and entertainment. Creativity is a must-have skill to help bring a client’s vision to life.
- Human Resource Skills: It’s helpful for event planners also to have human resource skills, which are needed to build business relationships with vendors. Human resource knowledge also helps event planners understand the legal aspects of hiring independent contractors.
What is an Online Event Management Degree?
An online event management degree involves taking classes virtually. Online event management degree programs may be either associate degree or bachelor’s degree programs. Some schools also offer online certificates in event management. Most online event management programs offer classes similar to a traditional school, such as marketing, administration of events, and budgeting.
The structure of an online event management program may vary by school. For example, students may view live lectures online or watch lectures at their own pace. Some programs may involve written lessons and videos that are completed at a student’s own pace.
An online event management program may be a good option for students that are looking for a flexible school schedule and the convenience of attending school from home.
What are the Pros and Cons of Being an Event Planner?
Although it is often a lot of hard work, event planning can also be an exciting and fun career choice. There are several benefits to working in the field including the following:
- Opportunities for Creativity: Event planning is a great choice for people that want to work in a creative environment. Event planners may be involved in menu planning, decorations, and entertainment, which are just some of the creative aspects of the job.
- Meeting Different People: If you enjoy meeting all types of people, event planning may be for you. Event planners work with clients and vendors and often interact with guests. They spend a lot of time talking with others, which can be a benefit if you are a people person.
- Playing a Role in Special Occasions: It can be very rewarding to have a role in creating someone’s special event, such as a wedding or party. Making a client’s dream event come to life may be one of the most fulfilling parts of the job.
- Transferable Job Skills: The skills learned as an event planner are easily transferable to other industries. Having the ability to communicate well with clients, negotiate prices with suppliers and carefully manage budgets are all skills that any employer will appreciate in the future.
- Travel: Some event planners have the opportunity to travel. Whether it involves local travel or flying across the country, traveling is often considered a great perk of any job.
- Access to Various Events and Unique Experiences: Event planners may be involved in all types of interesting events including product launch parties, conferences, and trade shows. Getting to experience all different events keeps the job interesting.
- Everyday Maybe Different: Event planners have so many different tasks and events, no two days are alike. For example, one day you may be scouting event locations and the next day auditioning bands. With an everchanging work environment, it’s hard to get bored.
- Fast-Paced Work Environment: Although working in a fast-paced environment may not be an advantage for everyone, if you enjoy juggling a lot of responsibilities, event planner is a good choice.
Like most careers, there can be some disadvantages of working as an event planner including:
- High Stress: Staying within budget, meeting deadlines and dealing with all types of unexpected problems can be stressful. Event planners are responsible for the success or failure of the event, which can be a lot of pressure to handle.
- Working All Hours: Working as an event planner is often not a 9 to 5 job. Although this could be an advantage for some people, it can also be a disadvantage if you prefer predictable hours. Events are often on weekend and evenings, which means you will be working nontraditional hours. You may also put in long days including working ten or 12 hours a day in some cases.
- Client Demands: Event planning is a service-oriented career. Service-oriented careers may mean dealing with difficult people including clients. Meeting the demands of a client even when they appear unreasonable can be a possible negative aspect of the job.
- Lack of Stability: If you own your own event planning business, the work may not always be steady. The lack of stability and a guaranteed paycheck can be a disadvantage for some people.
What is the Job Outlook for Event Planners?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of event planning is expected to grow by about 8 percent through the year 2032. The need for event planners does fluctuate depending on the strength of the economy. When the economy takes a downturn, companies, as well as individuals, may not have the money to pay for a professional event planner.
Jobs for event planners also tend to be more plentiful in large cities where there are more companies and businesses that could use their expertise. Individuals with experience in online event planning may continue to see job prospects grow as that specialty becomes more popular. As the field becomes more complex, event planners with a bachelor’s degree in event management or hospitality management may have the best prospects for employment.
What Professions are Similar to Event Planning?
Event planning in a career that involves a lot of organization and creativity. But it’s not the only career that offers that type of work. Below are several other jobs that are similar to event planning.
Fundraisers organize various events to help raise money for an organization, such as a school, non-profit agency, or charity. Fundraisers may design, plan, and organize all aspects of an event. A degree in marketing or business is helpful to get started as a fundraiser.
Recreation coordinators develop, organize, and implement various types of activities, such as sports and educational and community events. They may work for hotels, city government, and health programs. Usually, a recreation coordinator needs a minimum of an associate degree in recreation to work in the field.
Cruise directors plan and implements all activities and entertainment on the ship. Activities may include games, lectures, and deck parties. The exact path to becoming a cruise director is varied. But education and experience in business, marketing, or tourism are usually needed.
Resort managers run hotels and resorts. Responsibilities may include hiring staff, planning resort activities, and managing the budget. Having a degree in hospitality management is helpful for those entering the field.