A professional planner helps plan and execute your event or meeting, overseeing details that would escape most people's attention. Their tasks can include event site selection, meeting-room design, food and beverage planning, speaker or special-event planning, and audio-visual management.
- Meeting and event planners save time and eliminate unnecessary stress.
- Planners can save you money negotiating event contracts because they have valuable resources and contacts to draw upon.
- They manage facets of an event or meeting so you can focus on the guests and attendees.
- Planners can effectively market and promote your event.
Know the kind of event you want to hostBefore you speak with a planner, you should know the reason for your event (fundraising, celebration, informational), date of event, approximate number of guests and estimated budget.
Research event optionsContact several event-planning companies to compare experience, pricing and work ethic. Ask friends and colleagues for event-planning references, and consult online resources.
Interview potential candidatesAsk about their experience with similar events, how many events they have produced, what kind, for what size group, and what made these events special. Always ask for and call references.
Negotiate fees beforehandDiscuss whether the planner bills by the hour, by the event or as a percentage of the total budget. Inquire what deposits, if any, are required and ask if package prices are available. Get a quote in writing and make sure that costs won't run over without your prior agreement.
Read and sign a contractThe final contract should outline what the event entails, previous discussions on the planner's responsibilities, negotiated fee and other agreed-upon factors. The meeting planners often draft their own contracts.
- Ask event planners if they are certified. A Certified Meeting Professional, or CMP, certification is given by the Convention Industry Council, while a Certified Special Events Professional, or CSEP, is awarded by the International Special Events Society.
- Ask the planner how he or she would handle potential catastrophes, such as the caterer running out of food, the DJ not showing up, or a sudden downpour drowning out an outdoor event.
- Try to visit one of the planner's events in progress.
- Spell out the event in detail. Describe the planner's responsibilities and delineate all payment information in a written, signed agreement.