Countless new graduates, or individuals looking for a career change, set their sights on becoming an event planner. Most of the time, their aspirations are on based on the false belief that corporate event planner is a vocation dripping with glamour. As with many things in life, the reality is vastly different to the perception. If you’re considering event planning as a career based on the myth that this industry is all champagne and caviar, best you choose another job.
Making it as an event planner is not for the faint of heart.
It’s gruelling, all-consuming and fraught with stress. That said, being a super-star event planner is incredibly rewarding, but only if your idea of job satisfaction is a job well done and happy clients.
Type A personalities are perfectly suited to corporate event planning.
A detail-oriented, stickler for the small print and focused individual will – generally – thrive as an event planner. Meticulous organisation skills, and ability to multitask, and above average emotional intelligence are all crucial traits demanded of you in the industry. If you’re scatter brained, struggle to relate to a large variety of personalities and would rather follow instruction instead of taking the initiative, event planning isn’t for you.
Number crunching and an understanding of budgets is crucial.
An ability to juggle several tasks at any given moment is only half of the story. Great event planners need to be able work with budgets – many of them substantial. You’ll need to know Excel inside-out, and have an affinity with numbers. You’ll also need to be confident in your mathematical acumen, as you’ll have to advise clients as to the best way to compile their event budgets.
Technophobes need not apply – finding your way around a PC is crucial as an event planner.
Along with juggling tasks and clients, you’ll need to be up to date with Excel, PowerPoint, Google Drive etc. – the list goes on and on. Whenever a client, vendor or supplier needs information, you’ll need to be able to locate this at a drop of a hat.
Persuasive presentation skills are a prerequisite for a career in corporate event planner.
A large portion of your job entails presenting creative concepts to clients. If standing in front of a room full of people has you quivering in your boots, you’ll need to rethink your choice of career. Eloquence, an ability to explain concepts in an easily-understandable way and confidence in yourself and your team are all essential too.
Event planners need to be master negotiators.
There’s no time to second guess yourself in the events industry. You need to be confident in your approach and strategy and then be able to pitch it to clients in a way that’ll elicit a positive response. Negotiating budgets with vendors and suppliers is also key – finding the best service within your client’s budget is paramount to an event’s ability to garner ROI. Planning an event is rarely – if ever – smooth sailing, which means that you need to be able to deal with demanding or unreasonable requests on a daily basis. Liaising with your client, suppliers, entertainers, MCs and your guests – each of whom have different and often conflicting demands – is essential.
An ability to be cool, calm and collected amidst the chaos is vital.
We like to refer to this as practicing the ‘swan syndrome’. In other words, you need to be able to serenely sail through a crisis, even when you’re feet may be furiously treading water underneath the surface. Keeping your cool is crucial – successful event planners never show any weakness or self-doubt.
Event planning revolves around integrity and trust.
This is one facet where would-be event planners often fall flat. Transparency and honesty win the day – hands down. Swallowing your pride and being able to admit a mistake to a client, and then accepting responsibility and offering a solution is imperative. Never, ever, ever lie to a client – if you’re caught out, you’ll not only lose their business, but their trust as well. In short, your reputation will be ruined. If that sounds like an exaggeration, it isn’t. Event planning is all about building relationships – after all, if you’re entrusted with the task of managing a multi-million rand event, your client has to have unwavering trust in your ability and integrity.