Probably 90% of my event planner colleagues and I laugh when someone asks, “did you know you wanted to be an event planner when you grew up?”
Overwhelmingly the answer is no. Most of us had very different career paths lined up. We just fell in love with the industry, the people, the job.
But, that makes it sound like a career no one would want. That is definitely not the case. Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 10% from now until 2024, faster than average for all occupations.
So why be an event planner? Here are five reasons we can’t imagine doing anything else with some insider tips for those considering this career path.
Event Planning is Versatile and Always Needed
One of the best things about being an event planner is the versatility of the job. More than 15 years ago, I started as an event planner developing and producing small fundraising events. Now, I work with a technology company where I get to advise on and market mobile event apps and event management tools that I used as an event planner.
The spaces in between those two positions? I’ve worked for Fortune 500 corporations, large and small professional associations, the government, individuals, and philanthropic organizations. I’ve been able to work from home and in an office. I’ve planned training events, business development events, marketing events, incentive events, and client appreciation events. I’ve produced award galas, board meetings, and exclusive summits (though I’m still holding out for the life goal of producing the Oscars).
You name an event where four or more people are gathered together to accomplish something? Dollars to donuts, an event planner of some sort was involved.
Because of my partner’s job, we’ve moved eight times in ten years. My skills as an event planner are versatile enough that I feel confident I can always find a position, which in this economic climate, is not something everyone can boast.
Event Planning Builds a Powerful Network
I had a business professor who used to say it isn’t what you do, it’s who you know. And as an event planner, you make a lot of connections to build your network out. Supplier-partners, former clients, attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, members of the press, and other event planners are just a few segments of my network that I use daily.
Pathable is close to debuting a new series of customer satisfaction case studies: the communications company that is putting them together are former co-workers from an event planning role I held ten years ago. The job I have now is because I met the CEO when he was trying to get my business five years ago. The new event technology tools I’m considering integrating with? I start with my network, rather than online review boards. And nearly every time I’ve had to move, the network is the first place I start when I job hunt.
The biggest difference in the network you build as an event planner and other jobs? These people become like family. You spend hours with them, usually on site at an event, working through highly intense settings and very emotional feelings. They know your business finances, live through the successes and failures with you, and love you anyway.
Being an event professional can be a lonely, stressful job without one another. And no one else really gets what we do. Make the connections. If you’re not sure where to start, visit your local MPI, PCMA, ASAE, ILEA, HSMAI, etc chapter and get started today.
Your CMP Costs Less than an MBA and is Just as Valuable
Now, I’m not saying don’t get the MBA. It’s valuable and worthwhile, especially if you are looking to move into a leadership role past the events team.
That being said, you want to be taken more seriously and make more money as an event professional? Get your certification.
Event planners use an entire leadership and management toolbox with every event they produce. You oversee and are accountable for strategic vision, execution, human resources, marketing, sales, stakeholder management, finance, budget, negotiation, etc.
You’re living every day the business skills you need to be successful in a competitive work world. Earning your certification proclaims that business expertise to every employer and strategic partner.
Getting my CMP is in the top five for best decisions I’ve ever made for my career as an event planner. You officially belong inside the club and get the access and credibility due to you as a result of your study, experience, and hard work. You also don’t have to spend $100k to get it. Even with the professional development you need to do in order to qualify for it, the Events Industry Council charges less than $1000 to actually obtain it.
Event Planners Gain Expertise in Strategy and Tactics
Great event planners imagine the big picture and execute the details. Most events start with an idea, vision, or a goal. Your job as an event planner is to take that idea and make it a reality.
On time and on budget.
You gain experience in translating a client, internal customer, or supervisor’s concepts into a real tangible attendee experience. You learn project management, what’s vital as you travel the critical path, how to develop and manage budgets and resources, how to say yes while saying no, and the importance of transparent communications.
Whether you stay an event planner for your entire career or move into new roles, don’t under-estimate the ability to see the forest and the trees. Most jobs train you to perform either strategy or tactics. Truthfully, you’ll likely discover which one area you like the most. However, you’ll be able to do them both and have a choice. That’s powerful as you continue on your life long learning discovery as a working professional.
Event Planning Is Always Full of Surprises
A typical day as an event planner can look like this:
- Review profit and loss statements and analytics for last month’s event; make notes and recommendations for your executive team based on outcomes measured against pre-set KPIs
- Attend a demo for a new event app
- Negotiate a speaking contract for a celebrity you booked because of a Twitter conversation with that celebrity’s husband
- Attend a wine tasting at a site visit in France because they want your business
- Work at 22-hour day producing a live show, then get up at 5 am and do it all over again
- Learn how to speak audio visual and when to get out of the way
- Create and begin to execute a six-month omnichannel marketing and communications campaign to increase revenue and delight and inform attendees
- Get into a detailed conversation about whether or not 5GHz WiFi is better than 2.4 GHz
- Produce a sleeping room out of nowhere for an attendee who booked through a pirate room website rather than your official hotel block
- Spend three hours on the phone reassuring the Chairman of the Board that everyone will love the canapes and jazz selections he’s chosen for tonight’s celebration
- Figure out exactly what kind of extra insurance you’ll need for the fire breathing or knife throwing act
- Write eloquent and persuasive speech notes for the high-level government official
- Double check the menu to ensure the vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, kosher, halal, gluten-free, and person who can only eat white food attendees are going to be able to eat three square meals plus snacks
- Breastfeed in the bathroom because you’re six weeks post-partum but had to be onsite to run the city-wide
- Spend all day in the airport or perhaps six airports or even renting a car to get on site because job accountability
These are real life examples from my own and colleagues’ actual event planning careers. It’s just a small snap shot. And it might seem nuts.
Except to events people. Many of us didn’t mean to do this as a career. Most of us have tried to leave it once or twice. And none of us would trade the experiences we have because of it.
Do you think you have what it takes to become an event planner? If these reasons weren’t enough to convince you, our friends at Eventbrite put together this great infographic outlining the #eventprof career roadmap.CMP, event apps, event managers, event planners, event planning, Eventbrite, mobile event apps