Planning to be Successful
Forward from Patty Stern: One of the biggest joys of being a long-time professional in the meeting & event industry is the ability to share experiences and give back to our next generation of professionals.
Just as I had amazing people embrace me and show me how to be "the best" when I started out 23 years ago, I'm thrilled that we now have a new crew of young professionals who are eager and humble to learn the industry from the bottom up AND who earnestly aspire to become excellent in their professional endeavors. Such is the case with the author of this article, Chelsea Del Viscio.
Enjoy the read. I think you'll be as impressed as I am with this emerging superstar! (And, you can learn more about Chelsea in her bio below)
Have you ever walked into an extravagant event?
The shrimp cocktails are delicious, the music is upbeat and the décor is gorgeous. When you leave, you are impressed with how smoothly the event had gone and you cannot wait until next year to do it again. Little did you notice, while you were exchanging laughs and toasting with champagne, a person behind the scenes was orchestrating the event.
Event planners are people who have a passion for seeing a creation come to life. Event planning is more than just guests, food and decorations. Those are small components that contribute to the big picture. Numerous moving parts are involved to make an event great.
Patty Stern has been in the event planning industry for 23 years. Starting in Dallas, she has successfully built her clientele and reputation. She is the founder of her own planning firm and, after building up her business in New York City, she moved to New Jersey, where she's continued to further her career in the industry.
Sydni Blundell is the special assistant to the Dean and the assistant coordinator of admissions to online graduate programs at UT Tyler. Blundell is in charge of any luncheons, conferences and events that take place in her department. She is also the chapter adviser to the sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. She helps coordinate events throughout the year for the sorority.
Two different worlds, one same goal: a successful event.
“Planning is glamorous, but not until the end. And the glamour only works if all the planning has been done well,” Stern says.
You cannot be a procrastinator and an event planner at the same time, it will not work.
“The more thought that goes into the planning stages, the smoother it will go on site,” Patty Stern says.
Stern has a firm rule for her events. Whatever the time is for that event to start, every task is complete and the show is ready to go an hour ahead of schedule. This is a major way to cut out chaos. Or if something is wrong, then it gives you and your team time to fix it. Also, if you have early arrivals, the guests do not walk into a stressful environment.
Being “efficient and effective” is UT Tyler and Blundell’s motto.
Whether it is a luncheon or a national conference, Blundell’s goal is to execute every event with precision. “I have seen people kind of put things off until the last minute and then you’re stressed, you’re not able to get what you need done. You’re focusing on one part when really you could be focusing on another, and you’re just trying to grab everything at one time. That’s just not an efficient way to do it,” Blundell says.
Every planner has their own idea of what organization looks like. It does not matter how your own system is structured, just be sure you actually have an organized system.
“Keeping the information together as much as possible. For example, when I am working on a particular project, I will have a folder, and everything for that is within that folder, whether it is on my computer or an online folder such as Google Drive. But keeping it together and consistent…so it’s not scattered or overwhelming,” Blundell says.
Organizing your information and data for an event is important. If a client asks for the budget and you have to shuffle through endless documents or click on numerous files to obtain it, you look unorganized.
Nothing negative comes from being organized.
We live in a world today were everything is fast-paced. The industry is only going to become more dependent on technology. Budgets, timelines, contact information, invitations and other elements come from technology. Mastering technology is beneficial to your success in this industry.
You can plan months in advance and sometimes life throws you a curve ball. You may have an event where something unexpected happens. In those moments, do not panic. Panicking only creates chaos, and your surrounding environment can feel that.
“Life happens and stressing about doesn’t make it any easier. It just gets your anxiety up and it just makes everything else more stressful. As much as possible just try to take a deep breath and handle it.
If you’re stressed with high anxiety, they’re going to feel that. That is going to create sort of like a wall and that’s not helpful,” Blundell says. How you handle these unexpected moments helps you become a successful planner. Don’t let those moments make you crumble.
Be a Team Player
In the planning industry, you will be in charge of some events and others, someone else is. Either way, you need to have respect, good communication and trust throughout your team. Your team not only includes your personal staff, but also your vendors. Your vendors make the event.
“The best compliment you can get, is when vendors want to work with you. You can’t have an event without vendors,” Stern explains.
Difference of opinions are bound to happen when working with vendors, clients and other planners. When someone offers a different outlook or critiques your work, embrace it. In this industry, you need to have an open mind.
“But I think ultimately, just try to remember…especially since you put all your passion into it, remembering that when people have critiques, it’s not personal,” Blundell says.
Everyone is going to have an input. But the ultimate goal for the team, is to bring an amazing event to life.
When you first meet a client, you have to set an exceptional tone. Your first impression sets the tone for how the relationship will go. “When you walk up to the registration table and they aren’t organized or they don’t have your information, or they aren’t friendly, that sets the tone for the guest experience right there,” Patty Stern says. Your tone for the event sets the mood. Every moving component of your event needs to exude confidence.
Whether you are leading the team or are just assigned to a certain project for the event, you need to own what you are in charge of. Even if you think your part is small, own it. Remember, small parts contribute to the bigger picture.
“Whatever you are given responsibility for, really own it, like own it. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, and really communicate that,” Patty Stern says. As an event planner starting your own career, the jobs you get will not be glamorous, but those are the best type of jobs to receive. Accepting those jobs allows other seasoned planners to see that you are hungry to learn. It shows that you are passionate about executing the event.
In any job you do, own it.
Trust the Process
In this industry, it takes time to establish yourself as a successful event planner. You have to be willing to learn new things. Everything you learn and experience, even the bad, help you gain wisdom and become a stronger planner.
“In college I was in a sorority, and I had my positions and did event planning as well. I am using what I have learned throughout all of my time, to provide the best events as possible,” Blundell says.
Becoming an event planner is not an overnight process, it is a journey. Even the smallest events can have the biggest impact on your future. Be patient and learn whenever you can.
There is a lot of energy and effort that plays into event planning. However, if you are passionate and dedicated enough, it can be a rewarding industry. To get to the glamour part of planning, you have to be willing to work hard and be dedicated.
There is a difference between an ordinary event planner and a successful event planner.
Which one will you be?
CHELSEA'S BIO Hello! I am Chelsea Del Viscio! I am an inspiring event planner, eager to make my mark in the industry. I strongly believe executing events and bringing clients’ visions to life is my purpose in this world. I was born and raised in Texas. I am currently finishing my bachelor’s degree at University of Texas at Tyler . There are two things you need to know about me. One, I love God with all my heart. Two, I am extremely passionate. I will pour all of my energy into whatever project you give me, promise. I look forward to working with you!
Founder, PS Creative Marketing and Event Concepts
Special Assistant to the Dean
Assistant Coordinator of Admissions to online graduate programs of UT Tyler