When you are planning your next event, there are always going to be a million things you will have to do. The list is endless and you have to determine from the start exactly how much you are going to do yourself and how much you can delegate to others. You also have to decide, very carefully, WHO you are delegating to.
Everyone is so well-intentioned when they hear you are planning a party. All your friends start to tell you what they have done in the past and what you should do because “they have learned form their experience”. Some family members will offer to help too and you figure that you now have all your bases covered.
Well, maybe you do.
And then again, maybe you don’t.
That is where you have to debate an issue – go with friends and family that have all good things in mind but may not have the time or the wear-with-all to get the task done or go to a party planner / event manager. That brings us to the crux of this article.
Usually, someone has a “friend of a friend whose cousin’s niece is into that party planning stuff”. Here is the question you need to ask – is that person a professional or just really passionate about making a social event the event of the year?
There are reasons to use a professional party planner or event manager for your upcoming event. Here’s a list of things to keep in mind when you meet with a planner/manager for the first time:
1. Come straight out with it – “Is this your profession? Or are you just doing this on the side?
Let’s face it – you barely have enough time to plan everything; if this “professional” is merely doing this in their spare time, exactly how much attention do you think they can give your event? Don’t expect anyone to be at your beck and call; you’ll be disappointed when any professional in any field cannot do that for you. Have a normal expectation of their availability. Phone calls should be returned by the end of a business day, e-mails should be professional and responded to expediently.
2. How long have you been planning events? How many events do you have going on simultaneously?
As with any service, longevity can give you a good sign of how the planner/manager approaches things. Many years in the business can mean a wealth of experience and a plethora of ideas, along with contracted vendors who have good working relationships with the planner. Newer managers and planners may have a great many fresh and creative ideas. Some judging of the “book” and “its cover” may be necessary – if the person is scattered and unorganized, be careful. Event management takes a person who is detail oriented and meticulous – something you should be able to see upon your first meeting. Those planners flying solo can only handle so many events at once – a company with full staffing can handle more.
3. Will you be at my event to manage it?
Some will charge for this service, some will say its included. You’re paying for it either way. If the manager will be there, it will only add to you having a pleasant experience on the day of your event.
4. What type of insurance does your company have?
Many different ones, hopefully. Liability being the most important of the insurances. Most venues will only work with fully insured vendors. So your main management company has to carry their own liability insurance and insurance for each one of their subcontractors. Be sure to ask the venue you are booking what their requirements are well in advance of your event. Many people wait far too long and trying to get updated insurance certificates and higher policy limits become extremely difficult if not impossible on the weekends when most events take place.
5. Why should I use your company?
It sounds silly but being straightforward will be the best thing you can do to insure a good working relationship with your planner. Ask the person you are considering to handle your event from beginning to end why they think you should go with their company. If they can’t give you a good enough answer, reconsider.
6. Will we be “going to contract”?
Promises, promises, promises mean nothing if your planner or any of their subcontracted companies don’t show up on the day of your event. So many times, companies that provide similar services to the ones you have booked are called and told “My flowers didn’t show” or “The magician said he got the day wrong”. If that other vendor is available, he’s got another job, you’ve gone crazy to find him and the vendor you originally hired and a great day can turn into a stress-filled nightmare. Contracts should list all pertinent information such as deposit requirements, cancellation policies, restrictions and requirements for you as a customer and more.
Word to the wise, do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is your hard earned money that’s going to pay for all the festivities – make sure your get your money’s worth. And don’t forget the most important thing of all – when you are at your next event, have some fun!!!