Top 8 Traits of Successful Event Planners
In the last few years we have met many event planners and professionals who have recently started an event management business, and often we wondered if some of these people knew the rollercoaster ride they were in for. We love event planners and admire what you do, mainly because most people can't do what you do and don't have the unique skill set required to accomplish what you do every day. Which got us thinking ... what do event planners themselves think are the most important traits for an event planner. So we quizzed our customer base of thousands of event planners as well as quite a few event planning and event management groups on LinkedIn about what are the most important traits that an event planner can possess. Without further ado, here are those traits...
#1 Being prepared and planning for contingenciesI can only name a few events off the top of my head - Woodstock and the New Testament Loaves-and-Fishes thing - that were huge successes without adequate planning. Truly the success of every event is in the details, and the best event planners are also the ones who have a complete system for how they go about preparing for events and that accounts for absolutely everything. Other mentions in this category included:
- "Staying one step ahead"
- "Having a Plan B, C and D"
- "Foreseeing potential threats and risks"
- "Confirmation of details and vendors"
- "Triple check everything"
#2 Having passion for what you doEvent management can be massively stressful and require loads of overtime, and event planners are not nearly as well compensated as they should be for dealing with the all-too-frequent penny-pinching clients and sometimes overly petulant attendees. So you better be passionate about your profession and thrive on all the challenges that stand between you and a successful event. Event planners just starting out need to be aware of all the pressures involved and be certain that this is what they love to do, because it can be hard and trying at times.
#3 FlexibilityIn an era of shrinking budgets and shorter lead times, event planners must be very agile of mind and be able to put things together fast as well as change course quickly. I like to think of event planning as trying to build a house on a beach with shifting sands. Things are always moving under you and changing constantly, and your challenge is to build this amazing experience amidst constant change and often turmoil. Other mentions in this category included:
#4 Staying level headed while under fireThis is an extension of the previous trait. Event planning is not for those who are quick to freak out or panic. Clients, vendors and attendees are all looking to you for guidance and to set the tone of the event, and those who can smile through adversity and stay calm while scrambling to fix things make the best event planners. Other mentions in this category included:
- "Keeping your composure"
- "Looking and remaining calm"
- "Thinking on your feet when the unexpected happens"
- "Being calm and collected"
- "Patience to put all the pieces together"
#5 Having a visionMost people think that, when it comes to event planning, having a vision applies mainly to event design, but in truth this applies to the entire gestalt of the event. Vision in event planning includes being able to see all the disparate elements of an event coming together, including the event theme, targeted attendees, venue, city, design/decor, speakers, entertainment, cuisine, sponsors ... the list goes on and on. And the key here is having a vision that delivers on what attendees want and expect. Other mentions in this category included:
- "Envisioning how the event positively impacts those benefiting from the experience"
- "Focus on the experience of the attendee"
- "Ability to see the big picture"
#6 Attention to detailEven the smallest events have hundreds of details, and for large events I have seen event budgets that spill into thousands of details by themselves. As an event manager, you have to not only track all these details but know when they change and know how one change in one area affects things in other areas of the event. When building our event management software tools, we talked with hundreds of event planners and built the tools they said they needed, and even now we are amazed at the sheer number of details entered into our event software every day. Other mentions in this category included:
- "Understanding how the little pieces fit together"
- "Thinking about all the small items involved"
#7 Ability to listen and understand your clients' goalsMany people think that a great event planner is one who is very vocal and barks out orders constantly, but in fact the opposite is true: the best event planners are great listeners who take in lots of ideas, input and advice and then act on this. Great event planners also realize that the true purpose of an event is to achieve your client's goals and deliver the best experience to the intended audience. Other mentions in this category included:
- "Ability to read clients and determine their true goals"
- "Understand client needs and wants"
- "Giving total confidence to your clients"
- "Selflessness - it's about what the client wants, not you"
- "Listening - to your clients and to your audience"
#8 HumilityWe were initially surprised when this one ended up in the top 8, but after you think about it this makes sense. A savvy event planner understands that the event isn't about them, their needs or their ego ... it's all about the client and the audience and delivering the best experience to them. In fact, ego and drama and showboating only get in the way of planning and managing a successful event because they make the event about you, not about the client or the audience. Other mentions in this category included:
- "Honesty and sincerity"
- "No hidden agendas"
- "No information hoarding"
- "No grandstanding or drama"