Top 4 Things to Look for in a Corporate Event Planner
When events are not your core business and you don’t have a professional event planner on staff, planning events can get complicated very quickly. The common myth about event planning is that it’s easy. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Planning events requires many specialized skills including – but certainly not limited to – hospitality industry knowledge, contract negotiation experience, multi-tasking abilities, an understanding of various efficient and effective technologies, attention to detail, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills. The bottom line is that planning events isn’t easy. For this reason, many companies hire an event planner to help take care of the logistics so that they can focus on their core business. When hiring a corporate event planner, it is important to consider a few attributes to ensure that your event runs smoothly.
1. Unique Expertise
In general, the number one rule to follow when hiring a corporate event planner is to seek out someone (or a company) who has a proven track record in creating your specific type of event. Whether it is a corporate, social, or industry event, experience is key. The last thing you want to be is someone’s guinea pig!
Not sure where to look? Consider reaching out to professional groups like Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the International Live Events Association (ILEA) or the National Association of Catering and Events (NACE). Not only will you find professional meeting/event planners within those groups, you’re also likely to find relevant event planning publications to assist in your search.
Another great place to look is the local convention and visitors bureau. Since many corporate event planners are likely active members, you’ll be targeting from a pool of professionals with working knowledge of the local venues and vendors. Hiring someone who is well connected within the city where your event will be hosted gives you a leg up in the planning stages.
2. Professional Brand
When hiring a corporate event planner, it is important to be able to conduct some due diligence prior to your first encounter. A strong brand is important, and this begins with a professional, modern website. The company must portray their capacity as a corporate event planner by providing a portfolio past experience, photo galleries, and a sampling of their client base. Event planner bios and contact information (not just a website form) is a huge plus and adds a personal flare.
An active social media presence is as important as a website. These outlets show how the company interacts with past, current and future clients. Be sure to read reviews and check to see if they produce their own social content through blogs or articles.
Learning is a part of being. Be sure that the next corporate event planner you hire is up to speed on all the latest meeting/event planning trends. MPI, ILEA, and NACE all offer continuing education programs and certification programs. Additionally, if you operate in a niche market like life science or health care, it’s important that your corporate event planner be versed in all the regulatory requirements involved in pulling off your event.
4. Soft Skills
Sometimes, it’s hard to measure the capacity of someone’s soft skills. However, when hiring a corporate event planner, it is vitally important that they exemplify the following skillsets. So, be sure to include them in interviews as part of your vetting process.
- Organization: How many events does the corporate event planner juggle at one time? Do they have the capacity to give your event the attention it deserves? Do they have a system in place to manage schedules and milestones?
- Detail Oriented: Details are what truly set one event apart from all others. Does your event planner know how to focus on the details? Do they pay close attention to the small things without losing sight of the big picture?
- Resourcefulness: Let’s face it, things don’t always go “as planned”. Is your corporate event planner flexible? Do they have a “Plan B” (or C, or D)? Someone well versed in contingency plans is someone you want on your team.
- Interpersonal Skills: Event planning requires constantly working with people in a customer service setting. Is the corporate event planner even-keeled? Do they work well under pressure? Do they exude a consistent, friendly can-do attitude?
- Communication Skills: Along with interpersonal skills, it extremely important that your corporate event planner is always on the same page with you. Do they keep the lines of communication open? Do they communicate any trouble-shooting issues that may arise? Are they able to get their points across effectively and swiftly without creating larger issues?