An event planning career seems rewarding. The flexible hours, lucrative pay, free travel, and the glam that goes with being at the helm from start to finish. But how do you become an event planner with no experience? All the hard work, stress, honing of skills, and time spent to get to that level of expertise are kept under wraps.
Don’t worry. You can still become an event planner, even if you don’t have any experience! The steps you need to take to be a good one will be discussed in this article so stick around.
What Does an Event Planner Do?
An event planner is a creative, multitasking professional. One day they might be setting up a wedding, and on the next day, they’re organizing an evening party.
Whether it be a business convention, a conference, or a wedding, gatherings like these are a common ground for people with the same purpose. It's the event planner's job to ensure this goal is achieved exactly as planned.
Know Your Responsibilities as an Event Planner
Some planners specialize in a specific vertical. Some become wedding planners or trade show organizers, depending on their interests and skills–although many target a wider range of event types because the more flexible you are with the type of events you can do, the more jobs you'll be offered.
Here are some responsibilities an event planner does daily:
- Plans execution in detail
- Communicates with vendors
- Establishes proper event workflow
- Takes client goals and turns them into tangible actions
- Serves as brand ambassador for the client
- Manages deals and stays within the budget
- Coordinates billing and deliverables
- Inspects all aspects of the venue to ensure precision and brand representation
- Reports accomplishments to clients based on metric-based analytics
- Chooses and utilizes correct event planning equipment
- Secures the necessary permits for each event
Plan a Few Events for Free to Gain Experience
Planning an event for free can give you invaluable experience, especially if you're just starting your career. It is possible to set up a completely free event for your friends and family if you do some planning and research ahead of time.
But you don’t have to plan major events. Listed below are some examples of small events for your family and friends. We also included some small corporate and virtual events to help those who want to pursue a career in event planning build their brand, portfolio and get insight into the kind of events they can organize.
Small Events for Family
Make volunteering a special event family and friends can enjoy doing together outdoors. Not only does it strengthen family bonds, but it also emphasizes the importance of giving back to the community.
Some volunteering ideas ideal for families and friends alike include helping organize a charity walk or a fun run, serving meals for the first responders at a community hospital, or picking a family to help during the holidays.
2. A Night of Karaoke
Whether you’re the type of person to hit the stage, sing along in the background, or just watch, it’s a great way to bring people together and flex your event planning skills. It can be done at home with your friends and family with a karaoke machine, or you can use your phone. Offer prizes for the best performers, and don’t forget to provide delicious snacks!
3. Potluck Dinner
Potluck dinners are fun and easy for everyone. Most households cook food, so all you have to do is bring it out and share it with everyone. You can then get together to eat and chat, which gives attendees time to catch up on each other’s lives, talk about the latest episode of your favorite TV show, get advice, and more.
The term "staycation" gained popularity during the first year of the pandemic. This is where people stay in a hotel for a vacation, instead of traveling. Some hotels offer staycation packages that include activities like art classes and workshops for kids.
Small Events for Friends
You can extend your event planning skills beyond family and plan smaller events for your friends. This is an excellent way to hone your event planning skills and get feedback from people you care about. Below are just a few ideas to get you started.
1. Private Zumba or Calisthenics Class
Consider organizing a private live Zumba or calisthenics class. Working out with friends and family you hardly see can be very motivating, especially after almost two years of quarantine. You can use pre-recorded workouts, or have someone lead the exercises.
2. Garage or Yard Sale
Last year, some people went hiking, camping, and fishing to get rid of cabin fever. Now that hotels and resorts are available, tents and sleeping bags can be set aside–for now.
Some kids have outgrown these activities and find them boring as they get older. Hence, a garage sale for slightly used tents, hiking bags and shoes, and other camping gear is an excellent deal and a great way to practice event organization.
Once you've spearheaded some small events for friends and family, it's time to flex your event planning muscles further. Below are a few ideas for your first corporate event planning endeavors.
1. Trade Shows
Event planners used to hold trade shows in big venues due to a large number of attendees. Now they're either held in offices or hotels with a limited number of people or virtually where all the promotion, advertising, and marketing of certain products or services take place. EventSprout can handle online ticketing, attendance tracking, and help make event landing pages for your event. Contact us for a free consultation.
2. Golf Tournament
Golf isn't just a sport played by business owners and company executives. The conference room has now been transferred to the golf course, where fundraisers, government officials, and businessmen gather to talk about business. It includes registration, hotel accommodations, and other perks.
3. Product Launch
After months of perfecting every feature, the company's newest product is ready to hit the shelves. When that happens, it’s time to plan a launch party worthy of your latest offering. A product launch event is a chance for manufacturers to showcase their newest product to customers, investors, and influencers.
A successful brand launch creates serious hype in the market to jack up initial sales and re-establish the brand's reputation.
Small Virtual Events
Event planners aren't only needed for in-person event. Virtual events also need organized event planners to make sure things go off without a hitch. Here are a few sample ideas for virtual events you can plan.
1. Online Auction
Auctions play a vital role when it comes to fundraising events. They can also be organized virtually due to restrictions on health and travel. You'll need to conceptualize and think of the items you'll be auctioning off when organizing an online auction.
Prioritize items or services which can be shared digitally, like e-books or online tutoring. Physical items should be light, affordable, and easy to ship.
2. Online Workout Sessions
Many gyms across the country are still closed or implementing safety protocols. So, a visit to the gym for workouts and staying fit has become increasingly difficult. However, many diet and exercise regimens are now organized online to help people go back to working out– often for free.
3. Online Reunions
A reunion is often an emotional gathering. They include tear-jerking speeches, a DJ playing songs everyone can relate to, or used to dance to, and a swift slideshow of old photos to take people back in time. Helping with the documentation of new memories, a camera, and a videographer can help save the day.
Get Familiar With Event Planning Processes and Tools
Planning an event isn't as simple as throwing your average party. Whether it be a private or high-profile event, much goes into the planning, organization, and development of events.
Every planner wants a seamless unfolding of the event at the end of the night. However, making that happen is a different story. Below are steps to organizing a successful event:
1. Set a goal and a budget with objectives
Set goals, and a budget that covers all the parameters of the event. What do you want to achieve? Examples include raising funds or promoting a product. A goal in mind makes planning the rest of the event a more hassle-free experience.
Why is it necessary to set a budget? It's important to know where all the expenses go. A lot can be accomplished on a tight budget. However, you wouldn't want to plan an event that doesn't match the client's preferences, and what they can afford.
2. Find a venue and establish vendor contracts
You can't throw a party without having a place to hold your guests. The same goes for corporate events.
Finding the right venue to hold an event can be challenging, depending on the budget, theme, and feel you want the event to convey. For high-end events, a popular venue with grandiose ballrooms speaks a theme of opulence. A product launch should be a bit prudent, yet engaging.
Once the venue is settled, creating a menu and overall design for the event should begin. Re-establish your communication with things like lighting, catering, linens, and decorations. While some venues provide a few of these services, you may still need to outsource depending on what your client wants. Remember, giving your client options to choose from yields better results.
Marketing events are important to clients. People need to know the details of the event such as when and where it will take place. What makes branding significant is it gives you the opportunity to stand out from the rest and earn a distinction.
Discuss several themes, event names, even design logos for the event. This gives a unique flavor to guests. Take extra steps to generate a tagline for the event that blends client goals and hints of what's to come at the event.
You need to find ways to show how unique your event is and why people should be interested to attend. Promotional materials like pamphlets, stickers, and banners can be used to advertise the brand and get people talking about the event.
Whether it be a garage sale or a trade show, EventSprout can help you with your marketing or branding needs. Contact us to learn more.
Everyone involved in the conceptualization and development should know what's expected of them and how significant their part is to the success of the event. Coordination with all the components of the day's event is crucial at this point. Everyone should be aware of the schedule, which lists every aspect of the event from start to finish, vital information of who's in charge of what, and who to contact in case of a technical malfunction.
5. Evaluation of the Event
Not every planner or event planning company adopts a formal evaluation. This stage is especially valuable for those who are relatively new to planning. Or, if you want feedback on how to further enhance or build your stature as an event specialist.
Event Planning Tools You Can Use
The event planning business, like all other businesses around, needs tools to keep everything organized. Here are some recommendations:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools
For every business that hosts events, a CRM tool is indispensable. Here are some tools you can use:
- Salesforce: Salesforce is an effective CRM. It also blends with other tools. It helps develop and nurture leads from start to finish. Pricing starts at $25 per month.
- HubSpot: Not a tech giant like Salesforce, HubSpot also has a strong CRM, integrations, and a knowledge base, HubSpot Academy. Pricing starts at $45 per month, but they also have a free version which is great for those who want a trial before committing or are under monetary constraints.
Engaging with Attendees via Email
An email marketing tool for following up on clients during an email marketing campaign is also crucial. Here’s what we recommend:
- Marketo: This is a leader in the email marketing world. Marketo is a great tool when it comes to following up with prospects who you want to nurture, and then passing them on to sales. Their package starts at $2,250 a month. However, it depends on the database size, so it’s best to contact their sales team to get accurate pricing.
- Iterable: This is a dependable email marketing tool used to reach out to many people who've been using your product. If you're planning to have a customer event, Iterable is the tool you should consider. Pricing starts at $500 per month. However, its pricing is based on the number of messages and users on its platform.
Weigh the Pros and Cons of Starting an Event Planning Business
Successful event planners often earn lucrative wages But, it also has some downsides to consider. Here are some of both the pros and cons of starting an event planning business.
- You don't have to be a degree holder. While it's true that a degree in public relations or other related fields can boost your marketability in event planning, it's not required.
- There's always a chance to meet new people
- A successful career in event planning can be very rewarding, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.
- Event planning ranks among the five most stressful jobs. The job entails tons of responsibilities from conception to conclusion of every event.
- Event managers work over and beyond the 9-5 usual office hours. They work on weekends, late nights, even on holidays! Setting boundaries between work and personal time is okay but if something urgent comes up, you have to be on your feet no matter the time.
- It’s not the most stable job–this especially applies to newbies freelancing in the field. Before you finally find your niche and grow in the industry, your first months and pay are not going to be consistent. There'll be times where you'll struggle to handle multiple events, and times when you're out of work.
- While free travel can be a perk, being away constantly from home can take its toll.
Start Your Event Planning Business
Starting a business during this time entails a wide range of event planning resources, skills, determination, and hard work. Here are some tips on how to start your event planning business successfully.
If you don’t have a degree related to event planning, consider getting certified. Your local college or university may offer courses and professional certifications in event planning. You can also earn other professional certifications like these:
- Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). This certification is issued by the Convention Industry Council (CIC).
- (CEM) Certified in Exhibition Management. This certification is issued by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).
- Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP). This certification is endorsed by the International Live Events Association (ILEA).
Find Your Niche
Finding your niche means selecting which aspect of event planning you're more inclined to specialize in. Event planning is an arena of diverse talents. It features everything from fundraisers to stockholders' retreats and children's birthday parties, where you can specialize in almost any type of event.
Be flexible enough to collaborate, work, and adapt to any client, especially when you're just starting. Focus on your interests and strengths for you to develop expertise in specific areas.
Business owners often prefer an expert in a specific niche who can handle their affairs efficiently. Rather than a flexible, all-around planner whose specialization is unclear. Some will find it hard to distinguish what particular services you offer. So if you're an expert wedding planner or a trade show organizer, let them know your niche.
Gain Industry Experience
Have as much knowledge and experience before starting a business in event planning. The higher your level of expertise, the better quality of services you can deliver to your clientele. Here’s what you can do to gain more experience in event planning:
- Attend local events. Whether they're corporate events or fundraisers, local events are an opportunity for you to learn more about event planning. Introduce yourself to event managers and ask them about their approach to meet people relevant in the industry.
- Volunteer or work pro bono. A great way to obtain experience is to volunteer for local events, like those hosted by organizations and clubs you're a part of. Most local nonprofit and charitable organizations run fundraisers and awareness campaigns regularly, which presents opportunities to share and hone your talents.
- Research industry leaders. After your familiarization tour in the event planning scene, research the most influential ones in the industry. Discover their credentials and backgrounds Surveying industry executives gives you access to names and businesses you can later on tap or reach out to, including potential event sponsors.
- Find a mentor. A mentor is a better-experienced person who helps steer your journey towards an event planning career. While attending local events and learning the intricacies of event planning, seek the guidance of event specialists whose credentials and proficiency you respect. Ask politely if they could consider mentoring you in their free time, in your budding event planning pursuit.
- Craft a portfolio. Create a robust portfolio–not to impress, but to showcase your expertise, niche, skills, experiences, and other credentials enough for a potential client to hire you.
Increase Your Online Presence Through Social Media
Once you've acquired your business name, time to secure your online accounts and register on all social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.
You can also find and join online groups of other aspiring event planners and experienced event specialists.
With most events being conceptualized and accomplished online, an active online network can help advertise and project your marketability to employers and business owners looking for digital expertise.
Costs to Start an Event Planning Business
You don't need much capital to start a basic event planning business. For starters, it can even be done in the comforts of your home. Assuming you already have a vehicle you can use for transportation to meet clients and go to events. Startup costs for an event planning business include event planning software, laptop, website, and marketing materials like business cards and swag.
Get Your License and Permit to Operate
There's no specific license for an event planning business. However, there's a general business registration at all levels (local, state, and federal) an event planning business like yours might need, such as a sales tax permit and (EID) Employer Identification Number.
Get Business Insurance
An event planning business, due to its complexity, needs different types of insurance policies to be fully covered. General liability insurance will help protect the business if a client gets injured or his property gets damaged while at work.
The Bottom Line: How to Become an Event Planner With No Experience
People are tired of isolation. They're aching to go back to normal and proceed with postponed weddings, vacations, and other events. They're getting ready to socialize and celebrate outdoors again. However, not many event planners are eager to take on the challenge, which makes for lesser competition. This is an excellent time to get started with a new event planning business.
Planning to host an event? EventSprout can help you make your event registration, ticket sales, and ticket scanning simple. We can make custom event website pages, too! Contact us today to learn more.