Starting an Event Planning Business: A to Z
Event planning is a multi-million dollar industry, and the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the event planning industry to grow through 2026 at a faster pace than the average occupation. With an increased need for online and hybrid events, planners who specialize in virtual meetings may see even more growth. If you’re detail-oriented and passionate about connecting people through unique events, event planning may be an excellent career fit.
However, planning an event requires multiple steps and careful preparation—as does creating a successful event planning business. If you’re wondering how to start your own event planning business, this is your A to Z guide.
Understand the Job Requirements
Event planning is an occupation that requires multitasking. To make sure an event goes off without a hitch, event planners must coordinate with multiple stakeholders as well as overcome obstacles both before and during the special event.
An event planner’s job includes:
- Creating and managing budgets
- Selecting a venue
- Designing the event around your audiences’ needs and interests
- Contracting vendors and suppliers
- Managing timelines
- Ensuring the event goes smoothly
Because event planners must meet their clients’ needs while managing relationships with vendors and subcontractors, the job requires a unique combination of skills. These include:
- Communication skills – As an event planner, it’s essential that you understand your client’s vision and communicate this to vendors and subcontractors. In addition, you must check in with all involved parties to apprise them of developments and changes.
- Creativity – While you may need more of an artistic eye for wedding planning than for corporate events, all event planning jobs require creative solutions when obstacles arise.
- An eye for detail – A single accounting error or incorrect menu item could create an issue on the day of an event. Furthermore, it could put your business in jeopardy should a potential client sue you for professional negligence that resulted in their financial loss.
If you possess these traits and think you’d enjoy a job-creating dynamic event, the next step is to focus on your market niche and begin taking steps to promote your own business.
Choose a Niche and Create a Website
What kind of events do you want to plan?
While you might be tempted to say “any,” it’s important to brand your own event planning business. If your website and portfolio feature photos of weddings, businesses may be reluctant to hire you for planning corporate meetings—and vice versa. To build a successful business, choose a specific focus.
According to Entrepreneur, there are two broad markets for event planners: the social market and the corporate market. Within these two markets, consider the following niches:
- Weddings– Over 2 million weddings take place each year, and the average couple spends over $30K on their wedding. This is a lucrative niche for special event planners who enjoy working with couples to design their perfect wedding ceremony and reception.
- Social events – Beyond weddings, you may consider specializing in social event planning including birthday parties, retirement parties, and more.
- Corporate meetings – Close to 2 million meetings with at least 10 participants take place each year. Corporate and government meeting planning is a growing industry. As a corporate meeting planner, focus less on design and more on the best methods for connecting business associates to achieve their common goals.
- Conferences – Conferences bring event planning industry professionals together to discuss cutting-edge strategies and build connections. Like corporate meetings, this is a growing market. However, planning an event for thousands presents more logistical challenges than an event for dozens.
As you begin to take on jobs, you can always pivot and adjust your services. Once you know how to start an event planning business with a specific focus, you’re ready to begin promoting your event planning services.
Create a Website and Portfolio
As an event planner, your creativity, design sensibility, and clear communication are a vital part of your skill set. Thus, your website needs to reflect these qualifications.
Not skilled at web design? Smart website builders like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace make it easier than ever to pick a user-friendly template and customize it with your own color scheme, logo, photos, and text. Be sure to include the following pages:
- An “About Us” bio and introduction
- A mission statement explaining your unique approach
- A list of services with compelling descriptions
- A contact page
- A portfolio
Don’t have any event photographs to add to your portfolio?
Consider planning a mock event and hiring a photographer to document its design. As an alternative, volunteer to plan a friend or colleagues’ event for free (as long as you receive permission to use the photography for promotional purposes).
Show Up in Local Search Results
Once you’ve built your event planning website, make sure that it shows up in local search results. Use the following tools:
- Search engine optimization is the process of making sure your page shows up in search engine results. Your web builder may have an “SEO” section or another way to add a “page summary” to each page’s meta description. Here, include a short description of the page, featuring keywords related to your event planning business (i.e., “best wedding planners Seattle”).
- When you claim your Google Business Page, you should begin to show up quicker in local search results. Since Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp pages can rank on search engines as well, you may want to create your own business pages on these platforms, too.
Now that you have a website, you can start directing traffic to your webpage and portfolio. For best results, use a combination of online and traditional advertising methods.
Try the following methods:
- Social media marketing – Use the pictures from your online portfolio on Instagram and Facebook. Both platforms have powerful paid advertising tools. However, you can also boost your brand’s visibility by engaging with other local businesses, posting frequently, and connecting with potential clients who comment or DM you.
- Networking – To be a successful event planner, it’s important that you know the best venues and vendors (florists, photographers, etc.) in your area. Creating relationships with restaurants, bars, and event vendors can prepare you for your future events. The people you meet at a networking event may want to use your planning services themselves, or they may be able to refer you to other potential clients. To make the most of your networking, ensure these new acquaintances have a fast and easy way to contact you.
- Print advertising – You cater to your local market, and not all potential customers are computer savvy. Place an ad in your local newspaper and in any regional magazines. In addition, make sure you show up in your local yellow pages.
As your business grows, you’ll receive more word-of-mouth referrals. Consider offering incentives for past clients to refer you to friends and coworkers.
Take Out Insurance
A guide on how to open an event planning business wouldn’t be complete without a section on insurance. As an event planner, you take on liability related to your business. Event planning insurance costs vary, but are worth it to avoid any possible claims against your business.
Take the following scenarios as examples:
- You travel between locations to meet prospective clients. Should you damage someone’s property while visiting their home or office, you could be held liable.
- Your clients expect excellence when they pay your fee. Should one of your vendors or suppliers drop out of an event, keeping your clients’ deposit, the client could accuse you of professional negligence and hold you liable for their financial loss.
- Hundreds of guests may attend a single event. As they interact in an unfamiliar space, there is always the potential that someone gets injured.
This is why event planners need insurance. Next, let’s review essential event planner insurance policies.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance provides coverage against third-party claims. It can help cover the following expenses:
- Medical costs
- Attorney’s fees
- Court fees
- Property damage
If a third party brings a lawsuit and you are found responsible, this kind of event planning insurance coverage can help you avoid a costly payout (depending on the specifics of your policy and the coverage limits you select). Learn how to get liability insurance for an event to protect yourself from potential claims. Be sure to understand any exclusions that your insurance does not cover.
Professional Liability Insurance
While general liability insurance covers claims of bodily injury and property damage, professional liability insurance can provide coverage in the event that your errors or mistakes lead to your clients’ financial loss. Like general liability insurance, it can help cover attorney’s fees and court fees.
Cyber Liability Insurance
If you have access to your clients’ personal information, you may want to consider cyber liability insurance as well. A data breach could expose customers to privacy violations. The process of notifying your customers alone can be costly. Likewise, recovering lost data may take time and money. In cases like these, cyber security insurance is an asset to your business.
To become a successful event planner, it’s important to understand your insurance coverage and how it applies to the events that you host. NOW Insurance provides fast, affordable general liability tailored to event planners’ needs. While some general liability insurance policies may exclude risks related to special events, your NOW Insurance policy is customized according to your needs.
Add a supplementary cyber liability policy to protect your event planning company’s and customers’ data. Whether you host virtual events or store customers’ private data on your servers, cyber liability insurance can help ensure that a cyberattack doesn’t permanently damage your business.
Work one-on-one with our agents to select your coverage and limits. When you understand your insurance, you’re freed up to focus on the other details of your event planning.
- Convene. 12 eye-opening statistics about the meetings and events industry. https://convene.com/catalyst/meeting-event-statistics/
- Vault. Event planning. https://www.vault.com/industries-professions/industries/event-planning
- S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Meeting, convention, and event planners. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm#tab-6
- Entrepreneur. How to start an event planning service. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37892