Event Planner Job Description - Responsibilities, Skills, Career Path
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Event Planners: What Do They Do?
Event planners design and organize events, such as concerts, shows, festivals, trade shows, meetings, grand openings, corporate events, weddings and private functions.
In addition to handling every aspect of an event, from conceptualization through to execution, event planners are also responsible for coordinating and managing the work of the team involved in staging the event.
Event planning does not just mean throwing a party. In most cases, an event is actually a complex marketing and communications operation requiring input from a wide range of professionals - which it is the job of the event planner to coordinate. For example, the conceptualization stage requires the skills of creative professionals, such as copywriters, designers, choreographers and set designers, while event execution involves the participation of light, sound and video technicians, set builders, interior designers, decorators and florists.
The actual event itself is typically run by an event manager, who is responsible for coordinating the work of the event team, e.g. the hostesses and stewards, administration staff, speakers and performers, DJs, other entertainment staff, catering firm workers, photographers and videomakers.
Organizing a successful event is no simple task. It calls for hard work and commitment, creativity and visual flair - but above all it requires excellent planning and organizational skills.
The first task of an event planner is to examine the requirements of the client (which may be a company, a retail store, a restaurant, club, bar or hotel, or some other public or private organization or institution) and agree with them on the event’s goals, content, timing and resources.
The next phase involves developing an inspiring concept for the event that will promote audience engagement and build an emotional connection with attendees. Next comes the choice of a suitable location. If a venue has already been established, the event manager will need to check that it is suitable for holding the event. Once concept and location have been established, the event manager can concentrate on planning the various technical and production aspects of the event and organizing the set up and logistics (e.g. any technical equipment to be hired and erected/installed, car parks, an emergency safety plan meeting all applicable health and safety regulations), all the while monitoring spending to ensure it comes in within budget.
When organizing events that are open to the public, such as trade shows, conferences, fashion shows, grand openings, sports events, food festivals and charity initiatives (as opposed to private events, such as weddings, gala dinners, private parties, celebrations and commemorations), an event planner will often look after the marketing campaign designed to promote the event, as well as a range of other marketing and communications activities. To ensure a high level of participation and maximise an event’s visibility, event planners use a range of channels, including invitations, flyers and posters, press releases, traditional media advertising, public relations, online marketing content and social media posts.
The process of planning and executing an event can be viewed as an example of direct marketing, in which integrated marketing communication techniques and dynamic, engaging content are employed to reach a target audience. Events achieve a number of specific marketing goals, enabling the values and the visual identity associated with a product, brand or company to be turned into a tangible real word experience through which an emotional connection can be established with event participants (i.e., potential customers).
Once an event is over, an event manager needs to evaluate its outcome in terms of financial return, participation and audience and sponsor satisfaction and to coordinate a series of post-event follow-up activities.
Event planners need to be capable of handling all of the various complex organizational aspects of an event and therefore require a broad set of skills and expertise, ranging from communications through to technical production and execution. To ensure optimal event organization and execution, event planners will often turn to trusted suppliers for equipment hire and transportation, decorations and accessories, catering and banqueting services and the recruitment of event staff (such as hostesses, stewards and promotional workers) and a wide range of other professionals, including marketing and communications specialists, technicians, photographers and videomakers.
Another essential requirement for an event planner is the ability to deal with any unforeseen events or issues that may arise either before or after an event, such as delays or errors in orders, staff absences, or bad weather. To do so successfully, requires strong communications and mediation skills, self-assurance and - above all - the ability to cope well in stressful situations.
Events organizers may work on a self-employed, freelance basis (e.g. designing and coordinating events for private individuals, companies, and organizations) or, alternatively, may be an employee or associate of an event planning agency, which may specialize in putting on events such as arts events and festivals, trade shows, exhibitions, product launches, conferences, weddings and other initiatives. Event managers are also employed in an event coordination role by hotels with conference facilities, organizers of trade shows and exhibitions, clubs, theme parks and entertainment venues.
The job of an event manager involves frequent travel to attend meetings and perform venue inspections - in addition, of course, to attending the events themselves. Working hours tend to vary depending on an event manager’s schedule, with peak workloads likely to occur as the date of an event approaches.
Event Planner Duties and Responsibilities
The main duties of an event planner include:
- Defining the content, theme and characteristics of an event
- Developing the event concept
- Producing detailed plans of the various aspects and phases of an event
- Selecting suppliers and agreeing timing and terms for the provision of products and services
- Organizing and coordinating the work of the event staff
- Managing the event set up and logistics
- Planning marketing campaigns designed to maximize public awareness of the event
- Overseeing event execution
- Monitoring and evaluating event outcomes
How to Become Event Planner - Education, Qualifications, Training and Requirements
What to study? The ideal qualification for an aspiring event planner is a degree in communications, marketing, public relations or tourism, followed by a course in event planning or event management at a professional training school or other similar training facility.
Courses aimed at event planners typically focus on areas such as event marketing, resource management, budget optimization, management and communication.
Also important for anybody considering a career in event planning is extensive on the job experience plus a keen interest in the latest developments in the events management field.
What Skills Are Needed to Be an Event Planner?
Event planners need to possess the following skills and qualities:
- Project planning and project management skills
- Knowledge of event production systems (e.g. interior, light and sound design)
- Marketing, event communication and PR skills
- Personnel management skills
- Organizational, leadership and decision-making skills
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Creativity and visual flair
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to cope with stress
Event Planner Career Path
What's the career progression of an event planner?
An event planner may begin his or her career in a junior position, such as an assistant event planner - a role that involves providing support and assistance to an event planner. Subsequently, a junior or assistant event planner with sufficient experience may progress to the position of event producer - which involves managing and coordinating event logistics - before finally advancing to the role of event manager.
An alternative career path for an event planning specialist might be to open up their own agency, perhaps specializing in a specific type of event, such as fashion shows, conferences, meetings and exhibitions, trade and commerce-related initiatives (such as trade shows and corporate events), or even perhaps wedding and party planning.
Top Reasons to Work as an Event Planner
Event planning is the ideal career choice for highly organized, creative individuals capable of handling complex, challenging situations brilliantly, even when under pressure. The profession not only offers the opportunity to interact and develop contacts with a wide variety of interesting people - including clients, sponsors and suppliers - but also involves working on a vast range of different events, including gallery openings, sports events, B2B trade shows and grand openings, thus opening the doors to a wide range of future career options.