Almost everyone has had some experience at planning an event. It may have been planning a birthday party, a high school or college reunion, or even a wedding. You may not have realized it at the time, but even just going out on a date involves the logistics of where to go, when to arrive and depart, what to do, how much to spend, what to wear, and how to get there. If you've ever gone out on a prom date, you are quite familiar with the planning it took to get you and your date ready for your big night. Ideally it was a lot of fun, but it also involved a great deal of preparation on the part of many individuals.
Corporate event planners are needed to plan for ceremonies, such as awards ceremonies, luncheon and dinner parties, and conventions. Of course, on the corporate level, the stakes are higher. You are planning an event that will have dozens or even hundreds of people in attendance. How the event fares has a great deal to do with how the company is perceived. Even though the company may not have planned the event, if the event does not turn out to be an enjoyable one, certainly the company will appear to be the one to be blamed. Mismanaged events have a way of implying that the company itself is mismanaged, so every corporate event has a lot riding on it. The event may be for employees only, but then, again, there may be hundreds of clients — or potential clients — in attendance. Your goal as a corporate event planner is to cast the company in the most favorable light.
Event planning involves a great many business skills. Certainly the accounting side of budgeting is an important one. You won't be given an unlimited amount of cash to stage an event; you will be expected to match or come in under budget. You also can't pick dates at random. You have to choose a date (and perhaps an alternate date), interview people, inspect the event site, and coordinate transportation and parking for those in attendance—in particular, the executives of the company you are planning the event for. Project management skills and a knowledge of project management software are a must. You have to establish a timeline of events, and determine how each of those events impact the other. You have to determine the critical path, which is the timeline of key tasks that will impact the most on the event should a problem occur with any of them over the course of staging the event.
Event planners may also be asked to develop a theme for an event, plan for the decoration of a hall or outdoor area, arrange for speakers to appear, and arrange for their transportation to and from the event. If the event is outdoors, there are a number of critical issues to be confronted that you would not have to worry about if the event will be held indoors; you have to arrange for electricity, heating or cooling, tables, chairs, flowers, tablecloths, a band or DJ, security, portable toilets, signage, and cleanup of the area once the event is over. Event planners also need to know how to delegate work. Most corporate planners delegate the smaller but still important details, such as the food, drinks, guest list, advertising and marketing, and decorations. There is a great deal of preparation in planning the event, and if you try to do too much yourself, you will not do a good job at either the larger aspects of the event or the smaller ones. You need to know whom to trust with both the large and small details of the event. Over time, you will develop a relationship with your staff, so you will know whom to entrust with a particular planning event.
You need a particular disposition to be an event planner. Because there's so much to do, you have to be a take-charge person who likes the challenge of acting on a great many details, often without a great deal of time. You have to respond well to pressure, work efficiently, and be diplomatic. You will be interfacing with a great many people, and you need the cooperation and support of these people. Your appearance does matter. You need to be appropriately dressed to engage in a professional manner with executives and clients. Of course, you need excellent written and verbal skills. Above all, you have to gain the confidence of others because you will be directing a great many other people in the successful planning of each event. Whether you are coordinating a conference, planning a convention, arranging for a special event, or coordinating and managing a meeting, you need to be your professional, competent, and energetic self at all times. You also have to throw away the clock because many events occur during the evening and on weekends. Corporate event planning is a relatively new field, but it can be a lucrative one for a person with the right organizational, management, and communication skills.
Corporate event planning involves the following areas: