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 Outsourcing Event Planning

Now that you’ve decided to outsource some or all of your event planning needs, you need to think about the following:

  1. Okay, now it’s time to estimate a budget.

Based on your event objectives, it’s possible to create a general sense of how much it will cost for various elements of your program. This will vary based on the type of event you are hosting, and what it includes.

Many people who organize an event for the first time often fall into the trap of wanting to plan a champagne event on a beer budget (no offense intended to beer-themed events – we love those, too). Even that’s possible — not easy, but possible. And that’s why many people turn to their event planner for help.

  1. Source a qualified event planner.

Oftentimes people think that word of mouth is the best way to hire an event planner for that anniversary party, breakfast business meeting, weekend retreat or other type of event. While it certainly helps, this is probably not the most effective approach.

If you’re trying to find the best event planner for your event, then it’s best to research someone who is experienced and holds a strong reputation within the community of event planners. Word of mouth provides an opportunity for easy sales for a planner wanting to find new clients, but peer reputation is very effective.

  1. Source event planners through professional affiliations.

Regardless of whether it’s a social event or a corporate meeting, generally speaking, the rules of hiring an event planner or caterer remain the same. You want to hire someone who has expertise in your type of event.

Consider chapters of professional membership groups. Check with the national or local chapter of Meeting Professionals International, the International Special Events Society, the National Association of Catering Executives, the Association of Wedding Professionals, etc. It’s also relevant to find out who is publishing articles or being quoted in their industry.

  1. Source event planners through local CVBs, chambers and hotels.

Perhaps this one is overlooked the most. If you want to know who has a reputation for delivering services or expertise in a particular market, check with the local convention and visitors bureau. Many event planners are active members. They also maintain relationships with local chambers of commerce.

Another way to source experts is to reach out to the hotel convention sales department. While they may want to help you, they understand that many organizations want to consider an outside resource. They’ll share with you who they trust.

  1. Interview the planners.

Wow, we’ve only gotten to the point of sourcing and we’re just on step 7. It gets easier. Most event planners will be eager to hear about your specific event, but provide them with brief details at first, and focus a bit more about their expertise.

Ask the event planner or their firm to share information about their business, experience with events, and how they plan for contingencies. Because you are the one who will be hiring the planner, your job is to listen to what your hear. It’s like hiring an employee. But the truth is, a good event planner will also screen you.

  1. Provide details about your event.

Good planners will walk you through a discussion to learn about your event’s overall objectives, time line, budget, guests/attendees, and personal preferences. Good planners will ask you questions about your organization, learn about your objectives, and learn about your particular event or series of events fits within your situation.

This should help your potential planner put the event or program into context, understand why you may have set the objectives and theme that you did. This should be the same whether it’s a corporate event or a social event.

To Be Continued. Look for next week’s blog post.