All posts in “careers in event planning”

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.

Career Tips: Education Matters

What better way to take your career and passion to the next level? Commit to mastering Event Management through our program taught by the industry’s very best!

We are accepting enrollments for our upcoming term which begins on October 2oth.

What to expect?

  • Dedicated instructors who share their best practices and  are at the top of their game
  • Online learning – easy, convenient and available when you need it
  • Individual courses or a 5-course Certificate Program
  • Interaction with fellow event enthusiasts and lots of material to help you perfect your craft!

Courses include – Foundations of Event Planning, Event Marketing, Event Design and Decor, Event Production and Logistics, Event Management and Leadership, Weddings Specialty Course.

Register HERE!

We are proud to offer:

  • approved education by the International Special Events Society
  • re-certification hours toward your CMP
  • college credit

Don’t wait – enroll today and graduate by next fall!

Career Tips: Developing your business

Party Set up with Michele

Working with a team for set up!

Should I team up with a friend or go it alone?

It depends on how much time you have to put into your business; if you need the help, motivation, or support of a co-worker; if you can trust and depend on your partner-to-be; if you share the same work ethic, passion, and financial motivation; and if you have a good gut feeling about going into business with this friend. It takes a special relationship built on honesty, flexibility, shared vision, and commitment to make a partnership work. But for some people, the support and camaraderie of a partner can make, not break, the success of a new business. A good rule of thumb is to be careful when partnering with family or friends; it could put your relationship on shaky grounds. Go into business in a professional way with another professional. Go into it in writing, laying out all the details of your business partnership.

Is it worth it to pay for marketing lists or to enlist a company to do market research for me?

In most cases, you will learn a great deal from digging into your market and doing the research on your own. Even though it is time-consuming, you may learn more about what areas of events really interest you and will be most financially or personally rewarding, and you may actually uncover markets that you never knew existed! Resources such as business journals that generate yearly compilations of industry- specific lists with contact numbers, names, and addresses can be extremely helpful if you are planning an e-mail or a postcard blast or are doing a press release.

Marketing material should tie in your brand for a lasting impression

Marketing materials should include a logo and visuals for brand recognition and a strong impression.

How do I decide on a name for my company? Do I need a logo?

Choosing a company name can be very personal. It can also be expensive if you decide to print marketing materials and then realize the look isn’t working for you. Spend some time brainstorming and get input and comments from friends, family, or clients. Everyone will have their own preference on look and feel, but try to choose something that fits your style and has endurance. Try to stay away from trendy or overly specific titles that will become outdated or limit you if you decide to expand or diversify.

Do I really need to write a business plan or detail out my goals?

Absolutely. Even though it seems painful and needless to write the details down, it will help you to formalize and create a path that will lead you to success! By detailing the step-by-step plan you will make, you can begin to check off your successes and see the holes or gaps that may arise that will keep you from achieving your goals.

Career Tips: So you want to get serious about planning special events?!

Gene DeCosta, Root Catered Events

Gene DeCosta, Root Catered Events

Should I quit my job to start my own business?

Depending on the financial support or savings you currently have, it may make sense to begin your event business on a part-time basis. Many events can be done in the evenings or on weekends. You may be able to begin working with other seasoned planners to get your experience and once you have a solid working knowledge of the process, go out on your own. To move from a part-time to full-time commitment will take a solid client base that will guarantee repeat business and repeat income. You also need to consider the cost of health care and your fixed living expenses. Make sure your event business can offset these costs and put you in a positive cash-flow position.


I am not very organized and hate the minute details of things, but I love parties . . . can I be an event planner?

There are some basic skills that will be necessary to build a successful event planning business. Creativity is one of them, but organization and attention to detail come right behind. Building a successful business will require a good reputation and delivering excellent service. If the little details drive you crazy and you can’t be bothered to figure out how to “right” the “wrongs,” you may be better off filling your schedule with parties to attend, not plan. If you think you have what it takes but need some honing of skills or support in a few areas of business know-how, consider teaming up with someone who complements the skills you have.

How do I take my background in catering and launch my own event business?

It is helpful to have a background in hospitality or business if you want to focus on special events. You can take the training and experience you have and round it out with specific training in events or management from local colleges, universities, or at industry conferences.

I love all kinds of celebrations . . . what type of events should I focus on doing?

Plan to focus on the type of events that you are most comfortable with or have the most experience in. If you come from a corporate background, it may be easier for you to relate to the corporate market—and vice versa with a bride or groom if you have experience in social events. You already may know the lingo and the culture. Start with something you are familiar with and see where your successes take you. If you are chomping at the bit to make a big change, just get the training you need before taking the leap!