By Doug Dillard
The event planning service business is a $500 billion business worldwide today, with lots of growth opportunities. The profit margin has gone up from 15% to 30 to 40%. People hire event planners because they don't have the time and expertise to organize events themselves. Some of the events for which event planners are hired are:
- Celebrations (fairs, parades, weddings, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries)
- Education (conferences, meetings, graduations)
- Promotions (product launches, political rallies, fashion shows)
- Commemorations (memorials, civic events)
Qualifications: The best way to set up an event planning service business is to start as an apprentice with an event management company. This gives you useful exposure to the industry, and you learn the tricks of the trade without investing anything. You may also acquire knowledge about the industry by getting an event planning or management degree or certificate from a local university and also become a CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) or CMP (Certified Meeting Planner).
Target Market: The target market for event planning service business is huge. Companies as well as charities and non-profit organizations host gala fundraisers, receptions and athletic competitions, among other events, to expand their public support base and raise funds. Companies also organize trade shows, conventions, company picnics, holiday parties and meetings for staff members, board members or stockholders. Besides this there is a large social market. This includes organizing of weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, Sweet 16 parties, children's parties, reunions and so on.
Start-up Costs: The start up costs of an event planning service business depends upon your business profile. A low-end event management business can be started for $8,000 while a high-end may cost $30,000 to $50,000. The main expenditure is on three heads: equipment, number of employees and office space.
Tasks and operations: Social events generally involve more weekends and holidays than corporate events. Some events have "on" and "off" seasons. The main tasks of an individual running an event planning services business are:
Research: Find out everything about vendors and suppliers, talk to other planners who have produced similar events, read about issues of custom and etiquette. Ask your client a lot of questions and write down the answers.
Design: You need to sketch the overall "look" of the event. To get good ideas you should have brainstorming sessions, either by yourself or with your employees. Consult your notebook for client's answers to the questions you asked in the research phase. These responses will help you thoroughly check each idea for feasibility before suggesting it to the client.
Proposal: The production of a proposal can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you include photographs or sketches. You should receive a consultation fee, which can be applied toward a client's event if he or she hires you.
Organization: During this phase, you'll rent the site, hire vendors and take care of many more details. Make sure to discuss all major decisions with your client or someone acting on client's behalf, but avoid consulting many people.
Coordination: Ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength, that all vendors have a general idea of the overall event schedule, what's expected of them, and when. Make sure all your staff members know their roles.
Evaluation: Ensure your customer satisfaction so that your client will provide a great word-of-mouth advertising for you. You may also hire an event planning consultant to evaluate your work.
Earnings: There is no fixed fee in the event planning service business. The fee varies from event to event, and is proportional to the volume and quality of work involved. Generally, you can expect to make 15 to 20 per cent on every event. Given the size of the industry, part-time event planners can gross around $20,000 annually while full-time event planners can hope to earn $100,000 or more.
Marketing: The best way to promote your business is by word-of-mouth publicity. Encourage your clients to refer their friends to you. However, this will happen only when your work is good. You can also consider advertising in yellow pages and trade journals. A website is another useful place to give details about your event planning service business.