- Provide details about your event.
Good planners will walk you through a discussion to learn about your event’s overall objectives, timeline, budget, guests/attendees, and personal preferences. Good planners will ask you questions about your organization,family preferences and learn about your objectives and your particular event.
This should help your potential planner put the event or program into context, and understand your objectives and theme. This should be the same whether it’s a corporate event or a social event.
- Meet your planners in person if possible.
It’s not always possible to meet someone in person, especially if your program is out of town. However, depending on the budget and importance of your event, this is a very important step. And it’s a step that should be invested prior to narrowing your selected planner.
Keep in mind, the most highly experienced planner may not always be the best hire. There’s something about building a rapport with someone and listening to their ideas. You’ll gain a sense of someone’s passion and professionalism this way, too.
- Check references on your event planners.
It’s not good enough to go on your gut instinct, the advice of your friends, or even colleagues and co-workers. This is your event, and your name and your reputation will be associated with it.
Of course, you will ask for names of clients who have worked with the planner before. And you›re likely to get favourable contacts. But do more digging. Ask the event planner to talk about where they›ve held events before, and check those sources. Read information about their business. Find your own references to check.
- Narrow event and meeting planners to one and listen to their ideas.
Based on your goals and ideas, a good event planner will present you with a plan that will help achieve your theme. If it’s a private evening and dinner for an intimate group of people, the planner should come to you with ideas that include many of the details for your program.
At this point, the event planner should present you with ideas that will make you feel like they’ve taken your budget and doubled its value. This should be apparent in the way they pitch their vision for your event.
- Event planners should present their total budget.
Those ideas will come at a price, and it’s important for you to ask them to disclose all of their costs and potential sources of how their fee will be covered. Event planner fees will vary from planner to planner or event company to event company.
Ask them to disclose their terms and all fees up front. Do they charge by the hour? Will they receive any commissions from the venue directly or indirectly? Do they accept a percentage of a sale from the venue?
- Negotiate terms, and review the fine print.
Depending on the nature of your event, you will be asked to provide deposits, etc., to the event planner and the event venues/services they offer. This is a perfectly acceptable way of handling business, but the best advice at this point is to seek professional advice and never sign a contract that hasn’t been reviewed by your own legal counsel—especially when dealing with private individuals who may not have the same resources of a large firm.
- Work closely with your event or meeting planner and confirm details.
Most bad stories that happen related to event planning, usually a result of lack of follow through. Event planning requires the effective coordination of logistics and deferring these to a third party person sometimes results in a level of confidence or trust that should never have been given.
This isn’t to say that most event planners don’t deliver on their promised services. Instead, it means that you should make sure that the logistics have been confirmed—by checking with their suppliers and venues directly. Have they received their deposits?
- Be ready to fire—or rehire—an event planner.
If everything goes as planned, you’ll have a successful event and an excellent resource for the future. But if the planning process doesn’t run smoothly for the services agreed to in writing, then it’s important to review whether the project is a good fit with the planner. While it’s reasonable to be patient and work through logistics and any potential misunderstandings along the way, if you’re not receiving the services you want then you should be ready to have some serious discussions. If you must, be ready to fire a bad planner and have a backup option at all times.