Event planning. It’s an exciting field! All the glitz and glamour, the parties, the crowds, the food, the drinks, the pictures…
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It can be all that, but like any good iceberg, what you see is only a small fraction of what lies beneath the surface of the often murky, often choppy waters. Not that I mean to be discouraging. Au contraire.
Like so many other event professionals, I came to this industry from a background in theater. So I love a good show. And that is exactly what you are producing when you are planning an event - a show. But to grab yet another analogy from the theater, you’re going to need to decide if you are producing a Broadway musical, a one-woman performance piece, an educational play for kids or an EDM festival in the desert. Choices, choices...
So what kind of an event planner do you want to be? Do you want to arrange corporate meetings and conferences? Do you see yourself planning weddings and bar mitzvahs? Or how about gala fundraising events? Maybe you want to be a nightclub party promoter? Or perhaps fashion shows, art shows, trade shows or product launches are more up your alley…
Here are a few options to consider in this vast and exciting industry where you’d like to make a home for yourself:
If you are looking for a relatively straightforward business-minded experience, then you may be well suited to work on corporate events. This type of event planning is often undertaken by in-house personnel within companies. You may be an administrative staff person tasked with planning yearly shareholder meetings or educational conferences. You may work for a hospital, planning a medical conference. Larger events may engage the services of outside planners. Typically, meetings like this follow an orderly agenda that runs on a schedule. You’ll tackle all the basic elements of an event including registration, technical production and timing. As with all events, you’ll want to make sure that things run smoothly, there is good communication between the planning team, the venue, your vendors and presenters, and that your attendees are having a good time.
WEDDINGS AND BAR/BAT MITZVAHS
These types of social events are an industry unto themselves. They can range from modest ceremonies to multi-million dollar extravaganzas. As you are dealing directly with families, the dynamics can get very tricky. Emotions run high, and you have to be able to keep a cool head to navigate last minute changes and crises. As with corporate events, scheduling is typically a key priority, although the participants may be a little more difficult to wrangle than in corporate events. Be prepared for high demands, last minute changes and unexpected problems, as well as extreme joy and unbridled celebration.
TRADE SHOWS AND EXHIBITS
These large scale shows require extensive planning and coordination. The number of moving parts expands dramatically with the presence of exhibitors, who, depending on the size of the show, can number into the hundreds or more. With so many different people’s needs to attend to, good communication and diplomacy skills are a must. Attention to detail is also really important, as each exhibitor’s booth or display area is its own important little universe. These types of shows span every industry, from business and manufacturing to food, fashion, art and more. You may find yourself drawn to one specific area of this very large category of events - follow your instincts and go to where you feel the deepest connection.
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The event planning industry has become increasingly specialized, with planners developing reputations around producing specific types of events. You’ll find that the more you focus on the kinds of events you love to produce, the more your reputation will grow, and you will begin to develop your own niche. If you’re just starting out, you should definitely seek out opportunities to volunteer your services at the types of events you think you’d be interested in producing. Having the first-hand experience of working the events from start to finish will give you a good idea as to whether or not you are suited for that particular segment of our industry.