All posts in “Career Tips”

Webinar Video | Planning Events in New Destinations

Town Center Westin SunsetIf you missed our recent Webinar on Planning Events in New Destinations with Jane White, CSEP, we’d like to share this recording with you.

Click the image to view the video on our YouTube Channel.

Enjoy these tips from Jane!  She’s our Foundations of Event Planning Instructor and has just started a new term with a class of event enthusiasts from across the globe.   If you are looking to charge your batteries or add to your event planning tool-kit, join us!  It’s not to late to enroll in our Five-Course Certificate Program or a Specialty Course.

Jane White, Event Coordinator at VA Beach Convention Center

Jane White, Director of Convention Services Virginia Beach Convention Center

Here’s a recap of what Jane covered:

  • Destination Management Companies and Services – what they can do to familiarize you with an area and support a local Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • Destination Marketing Organization or  Convention and Visitors Bureau – the important role they play in the success of your meetings, conferences or events.
  • Corporate Events and Conferences – understanding how much can you expect a CVB to do.
  • Markets Differences – First Tier Market: New York City, Boston, Chicago or Second/Third Tier: smaller markets and cities. What they can offer, flexibility and constraints.
  • FAM or Familiarization Tour – Group Experiences for Incentive Travel Professionals and how to qualify to attend one and maximize the experience.

Tips from Jane to make the most of your relationship with Destination Services:

  • Do your homework – view the destination city website and familiarize yourself with the location and how it can fit your needs.
    • Size of Convention Center
    • Number of hotels
    • Off-site excursions available in area
  • Reach out to contacts at the destination – visitors bureau, colleagues, professional groups.
  • Know your needs – space, investment you have to make, programs.
  • Listen to the city representative with what they can and cannot do.
  • Prioritize – what MUST you have – what’s a SHOW STOPPER for you.
  • Where’s your wiggle room – pricing, rates, space needs.

Once Booked:

  • Let them know everything you need – put everything out on the table.
  • Act like a partner during the planning process.
  • Do your site inspections prior to and final inspections – tastings, dry runs for transportation/shuttles, meeting the mayor.
  • View it like an attendee!

We hope you find this Webinar and the information provided by Jane helpful to you in your event or meeting planning career. Visit our Facebook page to find out about new webinars that we’ll be hosting. We hope to see you in the virtual hallways of the Special Events Institute!


Jill S. Moran

10 Questions from an Intern – My Journey as an Event Professional

IMG_6625I had the opportunity to work with an intern, Erin Quadrozzi, a Hospitality student at Endicott College, over the winter break. She was a delight to have in our office and it was a pleasure showing her “the ropes” onsite at events and during the planning phases of several upcoming events. I’d like to share 10 questions that Erin asked during her parting interview about my career path, a typical day for an event planner and how to prepare for a career in events.

1. What is your professional background and how did you decide to work in this field?
I began my career as a volunteer for a youth leadership organization while I was working in the insurance industry in Boston in my early twenties. I liked organizing, working with people, seeing how solving complex organizational challenges was rewarding and fun. It was a very social experience – collaborative and altruistic – providing high school students with a chance to interact with community leaders.

I joined my father’s moving and storage business shortly after and began working with exhibit and display customers – shipping their booths to trade shows across the county. It was then that I was asked to assist with a hospitality event for customers of one of my trade show clients. They saw that I was organized and was a reliable partner for them, so I said yes to helping. The woman who had asked me was going on maternity leave and planned to come back to finish the planning for this event, but never did, so I saw it to fruition. It was in New Orleans in 1991. We hosted the event at Mardi Gras World where all the floats from the parade are stored. From then, I planned their annual event each year at locations in the US where the show was being held – Atlanta, LA, Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans. At that time, I relied on my colleagues in the International Special Events Society to help me resource vendors and venues. It was before the internet became widely used, so I did all my investigative work through phone calls and the yellow pages. It was exciting traveling to these different locations and creating an event that provided a social experience while meeting the client’s sales and marketing initiatives.

2. What degree(s), coursework, and skills are most helpful to persons entering this field?
I have made a conscious effort to help those who want to enter into the field or advance their careers by sharing my expertise and bringing my colleagues together to also serve as instructors, lecturers and mentors with an online program – Special Events Institute. It’s been rewarding and exciting to see so many event enthusiasts learn from best practices and not have to do it the hard way – by trial and error. I think a combination of course work – either in your community or online – is a great starting point. Add volunteerism, working with a mentor or an internship to put what you’ve learned into action. Those two components will help build an event professional’s skills and confidence.

3. What other careers (or job titles) are related to work in this field?
Event Marketing, Fundraising or Development for Nonprofits, Academic Event Planning, Hospitality, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Wedding or Social event planning, Tour or Travel Specialist – so many industries use qualified organizers or planners to meet their goals – it’s all about creating the experience.

4. What professional organizations (and/or publications) related to this field provide resources for students to help them learn more?
These are the organization that I have found most helpful. For a full list, you check Appendix B in both of my books – How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business and How to Start a Home-based Wedding Planning Business.
MPI – Meeting Professionals International
PCMA – Professional Convention Management Association
ISES – International Special Events Society
NACE – National Association of Catering Executives

5. What do you like and dislike most about your job?
I like the journey – seeing a need and figuring out how to make it happen. I like to see people come together for a purpose and enjoy the experience. I like solving problems, overcoming challenges. I like making something new and different through a creative experience. It’s challenging to have prospects that don’t understand the value of a professional, or who don’t heed your advice. Especially when it comes to safety issues or recommendations to create unique elements of an event. At times, a client comes in with ideas that they have seen or heard about and want to do the exact same thing. It’s more fun if they let you as the event professional, add some nuances or style to make it their own, or do it in a way that will yield a better result.

6. What are advantages and disadvantages of working at small and large organizations?
Small companies allow you to get involved with many aspects of the planning process. You see something from start to finish. On the other hand, you have to do a lot yourself at times. You don’t necessary have the “team” to hand things off to, but you can create your own team of event colleagues and vendors to be your strategic partners and support you. They can fill in when you need them and round out the skills that you have.

Working in a large company, you have access to more resources – an IT department, a marketing department, a travel department – it’s nice being able to dial a number or send an email and have your computer fixed or flight booked. The downside may be that there are more levels of approvals or management – and you may not be able to see all parts that go into the end result of an event.

I have worked as a small business owner for my most of my career, but have had amazing strategic partners that have allowed me to plan large-scale events worldwide, so it is all about the team, no matter the size of the company your work in.

7. If you had to start over again, would you do anything differently? If so, what?
Not really – I have been fortunate to meet many people, travel the world and experience the pleasure of creating successful events that have made a difference to so many people. I have enjoyed the variety of clients – social, nonprofit, corporate, community and academic – and that diversity has really enriched my life. I also have been able to balance my work life with a full home and personal side – having a family, great friends and I enjoy the outdoors when I can. I have no regrets and now, after 29 years in the industry, really love to hear that I have inspired or helped someone who dreams of having a career in events. It’s been very rewarding!

8. How much do you travel for work? Why? How do you balance this with your personal life?
Now I don’t travel as much, but when I did for client events, site inspections or meetings, I relied on support from family and professional services so my children were safe and happy. I have been in a book group for 25 years (although I must admit, I don’t read the book all the time), and love to grow vegetables in the summer, walk my dogs and be outdoors when possible. I think multi-tasking has worked for me – walk the dogs and get exercise – visit friends and read a book – garden and feed my family – things that I can do in small doses throughout my day or week that bring me pleasure!

9. How many hours/week do you work? What sort of work do you take work home, if any?
I guess you could say that I would work all the time – but it’s just living my life. I love what I do, so I am always thinking of new things to do, ways to connect with clients, and how to make projects the best they can be. I typically work at least 8 hours each day and some of the weekends as well. I have a home office so it’s easy to slip into my office and jump on the computer. Once I do, I connect with students and instructors in my courses, work on projects, or take care of business details for my businesses.

10. What is a typical day like? A typical week? Year?
In a day, I spend quite a bit of time on the computer – in my courses with current students, on social media, reading, sharing and connecting, on the phone with colleagues or clients or with marketing or business planning details. I also walk my dogs with my daughter or husband daily, cook and dine with my family, visit a friend or attend an event or meeting. I am on the board of an art gallery and am active in my community with events that may be held during the week.

During a week – I have my daily schedule, and on the weekends, try to spend time outdoors, will take my elderly Mom out for errands or to my home to cook and visit and take care of home chores. I also love music and will see live music or have dinner with my husband and friends when possible.

In a year, I attend professional conventions, speak at colleges, universities or at conferences, vacation with my family and enjoy the seasons of New England. I like to cross country ski, hike and walk, swim and visit the ocean and be with my family, cousins and friends. I plan a few get-away’s a year with my girl cousins to stay connected with them as well. It’s great having support and love – and giving it – I feel very lucky~ I’ve had an amazing career that has allowed me to travel, write books, create educational opportunities for others and give back and have fun along the way.

Setting your Goals for 2016

Your journey through life is like an envelope - it's all about the labels your experiencesput on the front! Where's your letter of life going_ngHappy 2016!

Wishing you all a year ahead filled with good health, prosperity and a steady path to your 2016 goals.

We wanted to share a look at our last year:
• The Academic Specialty Course was launched and enjoyed its first graduates.
• Our Weddings Specialty Course became Educationally Approved by the International Special Events Society (ISES Approved).
• We partnered with Bryant University to offer a Certificate in Event Management through their Executive Development Center.
• We presented 5 more groups of graduates with their Certificate in Special Events Planning – and sent them on their way to job promotions, new businesses and exciting opportunities!

And here’s what we are looking forward to:
• The Corporate Event Course is open – it’s filled with fantastic guest lecturers, charts, tools and resources. We are using Professional Meeting Management as a textbook – it’s a great way to prep for the CMP if that is on your “GOAL LIST”.
• We’ll be speaking at the The Special Event Show on Tuesday (#TSE2016) in Orlando, FL. Instructor Karen F. Salhaney, M. NP and I (Jill S. Moran, CSEP, Executive Director) will be giving a talk on Internship Programs, Tuesday, January 12th at 11:30AM. Stop by if you are at the conference!
• Partnerships – We are working with colleges, universities and associations to bring some exciting new educational offerings to event professionals in the year ahead! Stay tuned!

My personal goals this year center on the theme “moderation”
• Keep goals to a minimum – no more than 3 a day.
• Celebrate even a small success every day.
• Listen to my body – keep it healthy and feeling good through good eating, exercise and rest!
• Take time to enjoy things that recharge and regenerate me – walking, a chat with family or friends, being in my garden or outside.
• Remember to say “thank you “– and smile! Live a life of appreciation and gratitude!

As a gift, I’d like to offer COVER_EventPlanningBusinessa chapter in the latest edition of my book, How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business. It’s the chapter on Being your Best. I hope it offers some ideas to help you create the life you dream of and enjoy the journey along the way!

We look forward to continuing to be a resource for you and staying in touch in the year ahead!

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Jill S. Moran, CSEP
Executive Director
Special Events Institute

Making the most of the Holiday Season!


This time of year can be hectic for all of us – juggling family activities, parties, holiday plans – and managing your business as well. It’s typically a busy time for corporate or social holiday parties, but it’s also a great time to expand your event business to include side services that can bring in extra revenue this time of year. It also can spread us thin as we try to “fit it all in” in a short period of time. Here are a few tips that might help you manage and grow your event business and stay happy and healthy while you do it. Happy Holidays to all and best of luck in your event career!

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IMG_7592What other services could I provide to enhance my social event business?
Try providing holiday home decorating —table accent items, ideas on theming for in-home parties or holidays. Stationery items such as invitations or announcements are also a good way to round out services you can offer to your social clients. You may consider offering gift items such as welcome baskets or party favors. Think of the accoutrements to the party, from favors to decorations, and try to find a niche that you can showcase your services with. You may offer to put up their existing decor or add to it with some unique items.  Don’t underestimate the value that an event professional can bring to the table to add just the right amount of glitz, glamor or nostalgia to holiday decorating!

IMG_7623What’s the best way to get my name out to provide extra decorating or support services?
Social media can be a great way to strut your stuff and get visuals out to those who can spread the word. If you are decorating your own home, snap some photos on your phone, Instagram them and hashtag #holidaydecorator or #needhelpwithyourdecorating? or the like. Let friends and family know that you love making a space come to life and are willing to take the burden off them to make their home or office festive during the winter season. Consider a winter theme to extend the life of decor past the end of December and offer to go back to take any decor down and refresh for an early spring look in February. Every season can offer a chance to spruce up an environment, so share you own work and plant the seed!


I have some really high-end clients that seem frazzled over the holidays – they just are overwhelmed by their responsibilities and activities. Is there a way that an organized person like me can help?
Absolutely! Focus on the PLANNER of the title “event planner” and offer to organize their social calendar, shopping list, donation portfolio and the like. You can create a spreadsheet of their gift recipients and keep track of purchases to keep them on track if they are trying to be equitable among family members. You can log in all the charities they want to give to and even arrange cards and envelopes and a timeline for sending donations. You could also be a shopper for any families they are donating to and use your creativity to wrap the gifts in a festive way. If you have some extra time and want to fill in the gaps using your organizational skills and creativity, this could be a fun way to add value to your social client relationships!

IMG_4696Between all the projects and responsibilities I have, how can I maintain my sanity and health during the holidays?
Most event professionals I know are multi-taskers, “can-do”, “go-getter” types of people. We say “yes”, “sure”, “no problem” when we are asked to help out or take on another project. Get your weekly planner or calendar out and write in the times you will focus on YOU! Whether it’s the early morning or afternoon walk to start your day in solitude or recharge or the quiet time with a friend or partner to share the successes or frustrations of the day or week. Try to make it daily, but even a weekly visit with a friend – to shop and chat, killing two birds with one stone, as they say – can help re-align and re-charge you. Consider a mediation series like the ones Deepak Chopra offers to refocus your thoughts and renew your energy. Taking time out for yourself is not an option, but it’s a must to keep you at your best for everyone else. Nutrition should also play a big factor in your day – drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods to stay feeling good and at perform your best!

A Change is in the Air

IMG_5629My favorite part of living in New England is start of a new season. Each spring, summer, fall and winter – you are given a chance to change things up – to refresh, rejuvenate and refuel – as the world transforms around you. There is something about the beginning of autumn in particular– the cool weather, colored leaves and brand new academic calendar that makes me want to create new lists, reflect on what is working and what is not and reorganize my office and my life just a bit!

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a special event that was planned by Gail Lowney Alofsin, a terrific educator and event marketing professional. She was kind enough to share a copy of her book with me, Your Someday is Now. In her book, she has gathered quotes and advice from experts from all walks of like to share insight into their challenges and successes to help others in their path towards excellence. I’d like to share a few excerpts:

Don’t “what if” your life. Be happy with the decisions you make and don’t look back.

-Nicole Bertrand, Acquisition Marketing Manager, Cox Communications

I have spent time with many older people and the ones who are happiest don’t say – “I wish I had,” but instead say, “I did.”. To do is one of the guiding forces of my life.

-Brian Hill, Festival Executive, Atlanta, Georgia

Whether personal or professional…Set goals. Divide those goals into 3 categories of importance – “Must Do Now Goals,” “Sometime Soon Goals,” and “On the Future Radar Goals.” Create a plan, and do something each day that will bring you closer to reaching your goals.

– Natalia Kuziw, Assistant Media Buyer, Deutsch

At the end of the day, if you want something done, ask a busy person. The bottom line is that a busy person knows how to get it done.

-Larry Cancro, Senior VP of Fenway Affairs, Boston Red Sox

Gail shares that we all have dreams of doing something…someday. And throughout her book, she helps provide a path for making each of our somedays… NOW!

I hope these quotes will inspire you to take that next step – whatever it may be – to set new goals, plan a pathway to achieve them, create the career you dream of, and to live the life you envision – full of gratification, pride, empowerment and success!

IMG_5451Gail’s book is only available from her directly at this time. And…all of the proceeds are donated to charity! Stay tuned for information on where to purchase it! We’ll post it on our Facebook page – Special Events Institute -soon!  And for current and new students enrolled in our program – we’ll be entering you into a drawing for a FREE COPY!

For those of you who dream of having a successful career in special event planning a part of your SOMEDAY…consider joining us this term at the Special Events Institute.  The Fall 2 term begins on October 19th!  Register on our ENROLL NOW page.

The Balancing Act

Coffee Break

Best-selling author and SEI Executive Director, Jill Moran, CSEP shares her insight on balancing the many responsibilities of an event or wedding professional. From family, to scheduling, to friends and downtime – she’ll share her insight on how to fit it all in and make choices that work for you.

Is it really necessary to have a sitter when I work? My child is only six months old and sleeps most of the time.
If you are serious about your business, you should approach it as you would any other job. You may be able to squeeze a little time in if you have a long and deep sleeper, but you may need to plan for the worst-case scenario. In most cases, you may not be allowed to take your child to an outside office and work at the same time, so why should you expect to have one ear on the monitor and one on the phone with a client in your home office? Noise from children or pets and other distractions in your home will make it harder for you to portray yourself as a true professional. If you can’t bear to bring your little one to a day-care center, consider an in-home helper who can attend to his or her needs immediately. It will take the pressure off you when you are in “work” mode and help set the stage of professionalism for your clients and family.
I have so much work to do; do I really need to take a night off to play? Plus, I love my job!
Yes! Take a break! You deserve to refresh your spirit and body, and it will allow you to come back with new ideas and a fresh approach to each wedding. If you love the business so much, consider a visit to a flower show (you will be getting ideas about the latest blooms and arrangement options), museum (creative ideas on which to base future wedding themes), or the gym to work out (you will look and feel great when you visit your clients). Even the Bible suggests a day of rest, so plan to work it in weekly if at all possible.
How should I schedule my workday? Is it necessary to work from nine to five?
It’s not essential to “clock in and clock out” of your home-based office. By all means, fit in that exercise class or trip to the dentist when you can, even if it’s at 10 a.m. or mid-afternoon. That is the beauty of having your own business. A flexible schedule is one of the best perks, and you will more than make up for it when you work fourteen-hour days on the weekends during a busy wedding season!
Should I give up my weekly tennis match or book group meeting with my friends because of my new company?
Not at all. Incorporate your lifestyle into your new business. Maybe you want to pick and choose the outings that mean the most to you, or make the most sense with your new work schedule. If weekends will be busy and balancing all your extracurricular activities more challenging, focus on the activities that will help maximize your time. Consider attending an exercise class with a group of pals, or play golf with both a client and a buddy to meet both your personal and work goals in one fell swoop!


The Momentum Experience – Business Strategies for Creatives

naples-bay-resort_fbI am thrilled to be joining the Momentum Experience as a speaker for an empowering day of education, networking and inspiration!

The Momentum Experience is a one-day workshop on business strategies for creatives and entrepreneurs being held on September 1st at the Naples Bay Resort in Naples, FL.

Other speakers include Alexandra Beauregard, full-time blogger and business owner; April O’Leary, author and business coach; and more.  A balanced curriculum of solid business strategies is planned that will include the following topics:

BRANDING: Defining yourself as an artist & professional and what that looks like for you
ORGANIZATION: Creating checklists that can transform your life and business practices
MARKETING: Understanding that social media following isn’t just about numbers and popularity; how to turn followers into paying clients
PRODUCTIVITY: Learning how to manage your email versus your email managing you; mindsets and strategies that keep you in control
MARKETING: If you have a creative product, embracing Photo Styling as an essential component to your growth

Registration is $250 and includes meals and education for the day.  For more information and to register visit The Momentum Experience.

I hope you will join me on the 1st!

Jill Moran, CSEP

Executive Director


Free Webinar on Student Events 101 with Andrias White, CMP, CSEP

Do you want to learn more about student events? Join us for this FREE WEBINAR – Wednesday, July 22, 12:00 PM EST!

If you are in charge of student events at your school, on an event team at a college or university, or just want to broaden your event planning skills, mark your calendar and join us for our FREE WEBINAR with Andrias White, CMP, CSEP of George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Andrias White, CMP, CSEP

Andrias J. White, CMP, CSEP Event Manager, Office of Admissions Director of Logistics, Washington Scholars Program George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

12:00 PM (Noon) EST


Here’s what we’ll cover:

* Types of Student Events – from Concerts to Homecoming – Spring Fest to Alumni Weekend

* Challenges on College Campuses – scheduling, budgeting, vendor management and more

* Managing Staff and Volunteers – recruitment, training, evaluation and recognition

* Engaging Faculty and Staff – protocol, processes and partnerships for maximum impact

* Marketing and Communications – how to best communicate with your target audience

* Partnering for Success – working with your constituents for success

She’ll share what it’s like to be a busy Academic Planner and how to best address the need to create successful student-focused events on campus.

We hope to see you next Wednesday!

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Executive Director – Special Events Institute

PS: We’ll be sharing a SPECIAL OFFER for all attendees! Don’t miss out!

Evening of Sass with Steve Kemble

IMG_2888It’s always great to carve the time to meet up with industry colleagues and enjoy a night of education and fun!  ISES New England did a great job at their May meeting choosing the Music City Queen docked behind the Boston Harbor Hotel as the floating venue for an evening with America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, Steve Kemble. Steve’s infectious laugh, hilarious comments and candid stories entertained and educated us all on how to create a brand that allows us to showcase our best qualities and connect with the RIGHT clients.

Here are a few takeaways from Steve’s chat:

  • Figure out who your ideal client is and focus on them – find out how you can over deliver and make them want to come back for more!
  • Create a brand and a tag line that works for you.
  • Use a focus group to test your brand building.
  • Choose your company name and brand wisely and walk the walk – live it in how you dress, what you drive and how you face off to the world.
  • Consider tying your brand to YOU – and connect on a personal and real level with your clients so they get to know you.
  • Overhaul your website and launch it only when it’s finalized.
  • Get savvy with Social Media – create a blog and post regularly (I listened Steve!), tweet and post on FaceBook and Instagram.
  • Market yourself in various forms – newsletters, articles, television or radio.
  • Consider hiring a publicist – they can help you to juggle all the channels and coach you on taking the right steps to skyrocket your brand.
  • Don’t overlook your professional image – from a handshake to thank you notes – make an impression that is lasting and positive and showcases your talents and style the way you want it to!

IMG_2889UD Kitchen hosted delicious Thai-Asian bites, and Gordon’s Fine Wine’s and Liquor’s provided refreshments. Thank you also to Shutterbooth New England for the fun photo booth!

A big shout out to my friend and colleague Karen Salhaney and the recent Event Management graduates who joined her. It was great to meet them all and host a mini-book signing of my Event Planning and Wedding books!  It’s inspiring to see their passion for the industry and the steps they are taking to prepare themselves for successful careers as event professionals!  Congratulations to all!

Join me in a FREE COURSE – A Career In Events – What’s It All About?

Each semester, I visit the University of New Hampshire to chat with students in the Intro to Event Management class about what it’s like to be an event professional.  I get such a great response from the class – here are a few comments I have heard in the past:

“I didn’t realize what it was really like and all the different things a planner can do! Working with nonprofits, in communities and with people that really don’t understand how to pull all the details together. I know I can make a difference!”

“It’s great to know that you’re not just a ‘party planner’ and there’s a whole world of professionals out there with jobs that actually pay well.”

“There’s a lot more to it than I thought – knowing how to use software programs, being active in social media and being able to create and manage planning documents and spreadsheets – but that’s what makes planners true professionals.”

“I like that I can use my creativity and my business sense at the same time – doing a job each day that I really love!”

So, I decided to create this FREE COURSE and offer it to ANYONE, ANYWHERE through my online education school, to help all those who are wondering…Is a Career in Events Right for Me?

It’s simple to enroll – just complete this ENROLLMENT FORM and create a user name and password on our Student Site to begin the course. There are five topics with video presentations, resources and tips as well as a chance to share your ideas, concerns and questions in forums – with ME!  I’ll be your coach and mentor during the course and answer any questions you have about becoming a professional event or wedding planner.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions as I am always here to help!  I look forward to seeing you in the virtual hallways of the Special Events Institute!

Executive Director and Founder