Becoming an Event Planner

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Whether it’s been your life-long goal to become an event planner or whether the boss told you to plan this year’s convention becoming a successful event planner just doesn’t happen.

There are tons of resources, and schools, and organizations out there to help you. Over the course of the year we’ll be talking about them. If you think that event planning is for you, here are a few steps to take.

1) Get a degree in hospitality. Many schools are offering undergraduate programs. There are online programs, and continuing education programs. We’ll be taking a look at some of those programs as time goes on.

2) Find a mentor. Maybe you’re already employed by an association or organization and there’s a skilled meeting/event planner at the helm. Ask them if you can help and learn from them. The pratical experience and advice they can provide may help you avoid some pitfalls.

3) Practice your skills. Plan smaller events for your friends or volunteer for a neighborhood association. Sure, it’s not a 5,000 attendee conference or a concert for thousands, but you can learn and polish the basic skills. Don’t forget to take pictures for your portfolio.

4) Get feedback from your attendees. When appropriate offer surveys or a chance to send you comments.

5) Get certification. We’ll be talking more about these, but some of the most notable certifications include the Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) offered by ILEA, and the Certified Meeting Professional offered by the Convention Industry Council (CIC).

Those are just a few simple steps to get you started on your way to becoming an event planner. Of course you need to do your own research and find your own path. But over the next few weeks and months we’ll keep adding some tips and recommendations.

Are you already an accomplished planner? Tell us your story in the comments.

events2While out of print, our book How to Break into the Event Planning Business is available for free in PDF format. Drop us a note in the comments for your copy.

Five Cost Cutting Tips for Your Next Event

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Working on a budget for your next meeting? Who isn’t, right?

Here are some tips to keep the budget from getting out of hand.

1) Instead of a sit-down plated dinner, consider instead a reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres, maybe a
pasta bar, or a mashed potato bar. Have an ending and starting time so that your attendees can make plans
afterward to go out and continue their evening on their own or so that they can head back to their room to
crash.

2) Take a look at what A/V you actually need for your meeting. Do you really need so many Power Points?

3) Consider trimming back on decor. Depending on your venue, you might be able to install your own. Take a
look at the room or venue that you’re using, can you enhance the features rather than hide them with
decorations? Maybe you don’t need to consider such an elaborate theme for your event.

4) Save on speaker fees by using the experts within your own organization. Sure the big names may be a draw,
but if a fellow employee can provide an entertaining and informative presentation, give them a shot. If you
do hire an outside speaker, offer them the opportunity to stay around for a book signing (and selling).

5) Can you adjust your dates? Sometimes a venue might be booked on your preferred dates, but if you can be
a bit flexible, they may just be willing to give you a deal to fill a void in their calendar.

What ways have you cut back on meeting budgets? Share your ideas in the comments.