Are you an experienced event planner thinking of starting your own business? Or are you an entrepreneur looking to enter the lucrative event planning niche?
There hasn’t been a better time.
However, it’s also true that the event planning industry has evolved dramatically due to the pandemic, with one of the key changes being the increasing popularity of virtual events all over the world.
With that being said, starting an event planning business in the post-COVID era would also need some new approaches. Not adapting to the changes of the industry would simply mean you’ll be left behind, and in this guide, we’ll share all you need to know about this new approach to starting an event planning business.
In this post-COVID guide of starting an event planning business, you’ll learn about:
- Skills you’ll need to start an event planning business in the post-COVID world
- Legal requirements of starting an event planning business
- Creating an event planning business plan
- How to manage your event planning team
- How to promote your event planning business and get more clients
Without further ado, let us begin right away.
Required Event Planning Skills and Experience in the Post-COVID world
As a service-based business where you’re essentially “selling” your expertise, the long-term success of an event planning business will be determined by the skills and experience of yourself (the event planner) and/or your team.
Here are some key post-pandemic skills that event planners should possess if they want to start a successful event planning business:
1. Verbal and written communications
A must-have quality for an event planner is communication skills.
The event planner must have the ability to communicate well with various parties: event attendees, sponsors, vendors, donors, and even high-level executives. Communication skills are also important in managing your event team to make sure everyone understands their role and responsibilities.
Skills in written communications are also necessary so you as the event planner can convey written information with confidence and clarity.
Remember that communication should be two-way, so you’ll also need to be a great listener both for your team members, your clients, and other parties.
2. Post-COVID event management and design
When designing and managing events in the post-COVID world, it’s crucial to also consider health and safety regulations that may apply, including social distancing, vaccination policies, and so on.
In-person events should be designed with social distancing management in mind, as well as adequate hygiene and sanitation measures placed in the venue. This can translate into additional costs and complexities but is inevitable in this post-COVID event planning era. For creative event planners and professionals, however, this can be a chance to establish a better competitive advantage with creative event concepts designed with health and safety in mind.
3. Capabilities in planning and running online events
The global pandemic has forced many event planning businesses to shift their focuses to online events, but not all of them have been successful.
As we know, while virtual events do have some similarities with the traditional, in-person counterparts, they also require new skills and approaches.
All professionals in the event sector (not only the event planner) are now required to understand the best practices in creating a successful online event.
4. Leveraging opportunities in hybrid events
Still related to the above, event planners must also understand how to leverage hybrid events: when should we run an event as a hybrid event rather than completely in-person or completely virtual? How can we ensure similar levels of experiences for both attendees?
As we know, a hybrid event is a type of event that allows in-person attendees to meet at a physical venue and for virtual attendees to attend the event online. While at a first glance this seems like a win-win scenario for all, the logistics of running a hybrid event can be easier said than done, and when not executed well can instead lower the value of both attendees.
5. Data-driven decision making and risk-taking
More risk-taking will definitely be needed in the more competitive post-pandemic world. You can no longer stick in a tried, one-size-fits-all formula in planning and developing all your events, but we have to consider many different factors, including:
- Whether this event is better off as an in-person event, virtual event, or hybrid event?
- Are there any new concepts/approaches we can use?
- Which marketing channels should we use based on performance data?
- How can we deliver more value to the target attendees?
And so on.
Legal Requirements In Starting an Event Planning Business
Most states and countries do not require an official permit or certification before you can start offering your service as an event planner and/or open an event planning business.
However, being a certified event planner can definitely help in attracting more clients and can potentially allow you to charge a higher premium.
Some certification courses you might want to consider include:
- CPCE (Certified Professional In Catering and Events)
- CMP (Certified Meetings Professional)
- DES (Digital Event Strategist)
- CEM (Certified In Exhibition Management)
- CEPS (Certified Event Planning Specialist)
Some of these certifications would require you to take certain courses and have sufficient work experience as an event planner before you can take the written exam. However, they will be worth it in the end as they’ll provide you with a long-term advantage.
Also, some locations might require you to be insured before you can start opening your business, but even if it’s not a legal requirement, we’d definitely recommend getting at least basic insurance policies to protect yourself and your business in the event of accidents, injuries, and other issues.
Registering Your Event Planning Business
Branding is obviously an important aspect of starting your event planning business, so you should decide on an appropriate, unique, and easy-to-remember brand name for your event planning business.
A good approach is to look at your competitors’ brand names for inspiration. Have a little bit of fun in this process, and create a list of potential names before committing to one.
If you are an experienced event planner with established clients, then it’s probably a good idea to use your own name as your business name. In such cases, however, we’d recommend using a DBA process so you can register the business with another name but run the business with your own name.
Before deciding on a business name, you should check :
- Federal and state trademark records
- Your state’s business records
- Social media platforms for businesses with similar names
- Web domain availability (secure your domain name ASAP as you’re registering the business name)
In the U.S., you can register the event planning business in various business structure types, but the most common options are sole proprietorship, LLC (Limited Liability Company), Partnership, and Corporation.
If you are going to run the business on your own, then registering your business as a sole proprietorship is a viable option. However, we’d recommend establishing your massage business as an LLC or corporation instead, since doing so will separate the business entity from yourself, which will help protect yourself as an individual in the event of debts, legal disputes, and other issues so you are not personally liable.
Ideally, you should trademark the business name before registering your event planning business to ensure no other entity can claim it. However, this can be a long and complicated process, so it is best you seek the help of a local IP lawyer. For example, an IP lawyer with offices in Canada would be the best person to guide you in understanding Canadian trademark searches and registration if your event business is in Canada.
You may also want to open a separate banking account for your business, and also to register for applicable state and federal taxes before opening your business.
Creating a Business Plan for Your Event Planning Business
Creating a well-written business plan is especially important if you are planning to use external funding (i.e. investment) to fund the business.
Yet, even if you are going to fund the business yourself, a proper business plan can still be useful as your roadmap to success.
A typical event planning business plan will include:
- Business overview
- Company description
- Description of the massage services you’ll provide
- Market research and competitive analysis
- Funding needs/budget
- Employment plan
- Management structure
- Operational guidelines
However, your business plan should especially discuss:
- Budget and financial projection
Running a business can be costly, and along the way, there will be many expenses and costs that you might not be aware of at first. This is why it’s best to estimate your budget as early as possible and consider small details like taxes, license fees, insurance costs, and so on. Make sure to do your research thoroughly before estimating your budget.
The second is to perform a financial projection: how much money are you planning to generate? From which sources? How much of this is your profit? Then, question if you need extra funding, such as loans, credit cards with perks, or mortgages if you’re buying or renting out an office space. The easiest way to get any kind of credit with a low-interest rate is by improving your credit score. A score of 750 should be more than enough.
- Shortlist for potential clients
In your business plan, you should identify who your target clients are.
Knowing who your target audience is will help you in designing your future events, establishing business policies, and especially in creating your event marketing plan: how you are going to attract these potential clients.
Make a list of potential clients: local businesses, enterprises, people you’ve previously worked with, and so on. Then, plan how you are going to attract and approach them individually.
Leveraging Technology In Managing Your Event Planning Business
Running an event planning business is not easy. You must deal with various different elements of the business, and the bigger the business goes, the more complex this will be.
This is where it’s important to leverage technology to streamline your tasks and if possible, automate some of the tasks to make them faster, more accurate, and with fewer risks of human errors.
Here are some tools and solutions you can consider:
- An all-in-one event management software like Eventtia can help you manage all the different elements of your event from managing your team’s collaboration, monitoring timelines of each event, and managing sponsor relationships.
- With email marketing remaining one of the pillars of promoting an event planning business, you should invest in a reliable email marketing tool like Campaigner or MailChimp
- HelloSign for handling those digital contracts, which are becoming increasingly common in these post-COVID days.
- An accounting solution, like Quickbooks Online
- Zapier for managing integrations between all these different solutions, and 1000+ other tools.
Establishing Your Online Approach
Having a strong online presence is already important for any business even before the global pandemic, but with the pandemic forcing more people to be more active online, then establishing an online presence is even more important now than ever.
To ensure success, your event planning business must focus on establishing an online presence in three main areas:
1. Your Website
No, your social media profiles are not sufficient replacements for a well-designed and functional website. There are various affordable and even free solutions that can help you in building a professional-looking website in no time, so there’s definitely no excuse not to have one.
A professional-looking website will help convey to your clients that you are a respectable, professional, and trustworthy event planning business. Remember that they will only use your service when they feel they can trust you.
2. Social Media
It’s pretty obvious that you should promote your event planning business on social media. The question is, how?
Establishing your social media presence is about finding the right balance between three different options:
- Organic: building your own followers by regularly publishing your content (i.e. interesting posts about your events.
- Paid: using paid options offered by the social media networks (i.e. Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads).
- Influencer: partnering with relevant influencers that might help in promoting your event planning business (i.e. your speakers).
3. Local SEO
While an event planning business isn’t necessarily local (you can get clients from different cities and even different countries), it won’t hurt to strengthen your presence on Google Maps so you can attract more local clients.
We can do this in just four key steps:
- Claiming and verifying Google Maps/Google My Business listing
- Optimizing your Google My Business Listing, focus on providing accurate and complete information for your users.
- Building local citations by listing your event planning business on relevant online directories
- Getting more reviews from existing clients, especially on Google Maps but also on other relevant review platforms
While starting your own event planning business can be challenging, especially in this unpredictable post-COVID 19 world, it will be an exciting time that will be worth it in the long run.
So, embrace the exciting time of planning your event business’s name, planning up your first event, establishing an online presence, and attracting those first few clients.
We hope this guide has helped in answering the questions you may have on the topic of starting a successful event planning business. By following the tips we’ve shared above, you can start planning, setting up, and running your own successful event planning business in no time.