Being a Calgary Event Planner, I read lots of articles about events here. I recently read an article about an event that was to be hosted in Northern Alberta – which was to have lobsters. Being that we’re a little land-locked, these creatures were to be flown in, shipped and of course would have been the star of the show. Unfortunately, there were some shipping issues and the stars didn’t arrive on time.
The event had to be cancelled and the planner had the headache and stress of dealing with the disappointment of both their client and attendees.
As I read about this unfortunate experience, I couldn’t help but think that this was probably a well-meaning person who fell into the position of being the event planner. However, as things moved forward, quickly found themselves in over their head once things went sideways. To be clear, this could probably happen to even the most seasoned event professional; however, I believe when hiring a professional event planner there are some things we can examine to ensure they would be the right fit for you and your event. More importantly, if things derail, and they often do; you have the right team in place to execute your event regardless of the barriers or circumstance.
Step 1 – Conduct Your Research
This might seem very simple; however, it amazes me the number of people who go with a recommendation they are provided, without doing a little digging. Just because your friend’s, cousin’s, aunt is an event planner and she did a wedding in Stettler, Alberta – doesn’t necessarily make her the best fit for you! She could be…but why not conduct a bit of research to make sure?
- Does this Calgary Event Planner have a website?Upon inspection, does the website seem to reflect the caliber of event that you would like planned? Unlike many professions where education and accreditation is required, anyone (literally) can throw up a shingle and call themselves an Calgary event planner. It’s often easy to see who is legitimately making a living as an event planner by investigating a website. No website? Then I would be hesitant to move forward.
- Does the website appear to have events similar to the one you want planned?If you’re looking to do a corporate event and the website is full of wedding photos, this might not be the best fit for you.
- Do they have any event association affiliations?This might not seem important but I have found a rich network of event partners through my affiliation with the International Live Events Association (ILEA) that contribute to me and my events in many ways. Event associations are not only great for a Calgary event planner to network – more importantly for you – they allow us to meet suppliers that will help build your next great event.
Step 2 – The Interview
So you’ve done your research and believe you have a few solid candidates. The next step, I would suggest, is meeting these candidates in person. Personality is an essential aspect of this job and meeting someone face-to-face is imperative to obtain a sense of fit. If you have any questions about the gaps in your research this would provide the perfect opportunity to determine if you’re on the same page and share the same vision for your event. Specifically:
- Find out about their working process
- How many people work for them
- Determine how they contract, budget, handle deposits and billing
- Find out if they markup their costs, do they charge a percentage and do they charge hourly or a flat fee?
- What aspects of the event will they be responsible for and what will you be expected to handle?
- Do they have experience with the type of event you are looking to produce?
- How do they handle stress?
- How many people do they use onsite?
- What’s their vision in terms of executing your event?
- Do they have preferred suppliers and are they open to others?
The list goes on, but these are the questions that can help you determine who is the right fit and when going through this process ensure you are comparing apples to apples.
Step Three – Check References for your Calgary Event Planner
Before you move to contracting, your new event planner, I highly recommend that you reach out to some of their previous clients and see what their experiences were.
Questions you may wish to ask include:
- How did they respond and communicate?
- How did they handle stress?
- Did they deliver what they promised?
- Where could they have improved?
I believe that I’m only as good as my last event. If you check your potential planner’s references – you are well on your way in ensuring your potential planner is the right one for you!