All posts in “special events institute”

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

Career Tips: The Home Office

I am ready to launch my business! Why shouldn’t I take a five-year lease out at the most prestigious office park to really get attention for my business and start out on the right foot?

Unless you have had a recent inheritance or have large sums of money buried in your backyard, it is wise to start slowly. Most clients will not need to have meetings at your office, so in the beginning it is wise to spend your start-up costs on office equipment, specific event supplies, or education to get you up and running.

What software will I need to get started?

There are many programs that will help with basic office support and, more specifically, event planning and logistics. They range in cost from nothing to thousands of dollars. My advice would be to start slow. Try to get a trial version of the software and use it to see if it suits your needs. You may find that you use it too seldom to warrant the price, or one of your vendors may have a more sophisticated version that they can support you with. If you can envision yourself using it to support your sales or planning, consider charging a small administration fee on each job to help offset the cost.

 Do I need a separate phone/fax line?

Absolutely! Being able to clearly know what call is for business is essential in putting forth a professional image. If you add an additional line to your home, you will not get business support and any extras such as toll-free options, but it will be less expensive. Taking out a full business line may give you some Internet or additional features that will help your marketing efforts as well. Some fax services offer online products, eliminating an additional phone line for faxes. Check with your local phone service provider for benefits and features that best suit your needs.

Where could I have an alternate meeting site for client appointments? My home office just doesn’t seem professional enough!

It’s a good idea to have a couple of places that are professional and accessible for client meetings. I often meet at a hotel that I do work with, and they are happy to give me a room to set up any centerpieces, show my portfolio, or have a light lunch or coffee with a client. Sometimes even a coffee shop that is comfortable and trendy can set the atmosphere you want to create for your new business. Some areas have community offices where, for a small monthly fee, you can utilize a central conference area and even have a company name listed on an entrance directory. In any case, opt for a professional location that allows you to put your best foot forward.

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!

Student Highlight: Chaylene Thorne

Chaylene Thorne, Events with Vizability

Chaylene Thorne, Events with Vizability


Why do you want to become an event planner?

I’ve always been creative, and I love doing unexpected things. Event planning is a constantly evolving career that allows me to push my creativity and I’m always learning something new and exciting. I began my love affair with event planning in university where I took Hospitality & Tourism Management – this is where I realized that this was the industry for me!
Why did you choose Special Events Institute to get your certification?

SEI was the perfect fit for me because as an online course, I was able to work at my own pace – which is helpful because I am currently an event coordinator, so I can’t always schedule my time consistently! I had heard great things about the course load and the instructors, and that definitely held true.

What has been your favorite SEI course so far and why did you enjoy it?

I would have to say my favorite was Event Production and Logistics. There was a lot of content and terms that I hadn’t heard of before, so I learned a lot – and that has helped me so much in my professional career. It was great to learn the in’s & out’s of this side of the industry because it is all of those details that really bring together your event.
What advice do you have for future SEI students?

Utilize the forums and ask as many questions as possible! Take the time to read your classmates’ work to see someone else’s point of view – I found that my classmates would bring up some points that I hadn’t even thought of, so it was a bonus learning experience. Also, get comfortable reaching out to your instructors! They provided me with so much great feedback and suggestions, it allowed me to develop my ‘events’ over time and really make the most out of the course experience.
What do you hope to accomplish as an SEI graduate?

I want to use the information I learned in the last year and apply it to my current career as an event coordinator, so far it has already helped me grow professionally! I plan on completing the specialty courses through SEI to get my master’s certificate! Eventually, I’d like to become a CSEP – and I now have the tools to be comfortable having that become a reality.

Welcome to the Special Events Institute Blog!

Jill S. Moran, CSEP

Jill S. Moran, CSEP


Thanks for stopping by!

I am Jill Moran, event planner, author of two books, founder of the Special Events Institute and a CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional). I am a Mom, a daughter, a wife and try to be a good friend (when I am not crazy busy working events and managing my businesses). I have 2 dogs and a cat and live in a house that is over 350 years old. I love the ocean, like to bike and walk my dogs. I started out in the event planning field over 25 years ago. I have learned so much over the years and love to help those just starting out in the business.

Passionate about events? You’ve come to the right place! What to expect?

  • Tips on forging a career in event planning
  • Interviews with successful planners
  • Tried and true planning techniques
  • Latest trends and inspiration
  • Ask the Author – Q&As with Jill Moran, CSEP
  • News from our students and graduates


Why events? Here’s how Jill Moran, CSEP, Author and Founder of the SEI navigated her path into special event planning.

When did you plan your first event?

My first event (as an adult) was volunteering for the JayCees in Boston. I helped out with the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference at Boston College. It was an educational experience for 200 high school sophomores from across the US. I helped with transportation and logistics. I actually met my husband-to-be working on that event!

How did you know that planning events was for you?

I actually was working in another industry at the time. I formally committed to events after my first daughter was born. I had been working at a family transportation business, focusing on trade shows and also managing an office. I wanted more flexibility in my schedule and one of my clients asked me to help coordinate a hospitality event at a show in New Orleans. It seemed like the perfect time to segue into doing my own thing. I contracted with my first client, fixed up my basement into a nice private office and I was on my way!

How are planning events different now from when you started out?

If you can believe it, when I first started there was no internet. Researching vendors and ideas was much more time consuming. “Fam” trips to get to know the areas and find resources were a necessity. I flipped through my ISES Directory, picked up the phone and set up appointments to preview venues, interview vendors and select the right elements for my client’s events.

Training was very different when I started. There were no courses or classes to take. It was trial an error. Having a good business sense, being organized, creative, hard-working and intuitive all helped. And being willing to give it a try and take new things on and figure things out was and still is a must.

What do you like most about event planning?

I like the feeling of an event well executed! The smiling faces of guests, the moment everyone enters a room and looks around in awe, the thank you notes from clients, vendors, board or staff after an event is held. I also really like the planning phase. Putting together budgets, spreadsheets and proposals – the detail work.

What do you like least?

Putting everything away and organizing after the event. That’s my least favorite, but important to be ready for the next event.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Be honest with what you are good at and what you need help with. Do the things you like to do first, to get them out of the way. Don’t put off things that must be done –like thank you notes, proposals or follow up calls. Being on top of your communication is key to keeping everyone happy.