According to certified special events professional Dr. Joe Goldblatt, people across the world are spending $500 billion every year. He also revealed that event planners enjoy the average profit margin of 15%, but can reach 40% if they’re experienced and creative while arranging for the event’s design, food and entertainment, and supervising the venue. Of all the types of events you can plan, corporate events are the most lucrative, with both for-profit and non-profits holding thousands of exhibitions, galas and other events all year round. In fact, the Convention Industry Council reports that the U.S. alone hosts over 1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions and other meetings.
If you’re interested in becoming a corporate event planner and earning between $16 and $150 per hour plus vendor commissions, this is the guide for you.
First, Set Up Shop
Before you learn how to create great corporate events, you need to set up your own events planning business. After deciding to serve the corporate market segment, decide the geographic location you wish to serve. Take into consideration the cost of living and target areas with well-defined on- and off-seasons such as the Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard.
If you decide to work from home on your own, many of your expenses will be reduced immensely. For instance, you won’t have to pay rent or invest in an inventory or payroll. Meanwhile, these three elements would cost $2,300, $500 and $4,000 on average if you’re establishing a high-end business occupies a 1,000 square foot office space and have a few employees.
Next, work on your experience and reputation. To establish a good reputation with the corporate sector, avoid charging too little just to get the job. While corporates are always shopping around for the best price, a planner with too low an estimate may be as off-putting as an expensive professional. Your client may also suspect that you’re trying to gain experience on their payroll or question your ability to throw a top-tier event.
After gaining three years of experience in creating corporate events, increase your profit margin by becoming certified. Two of the top certifications you can go for are Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) and Certified Meeting Planner (CMP). At times, corporations look for these designations before hiring planners. After all, the amount of research and study necessary for these certifications ensures them that their event is handled by professionals.
Determine the Cost of Your Services
To ensure higher profits from your venture, one of the aspects you should take care of is calculating fees-for service, i.e. the total cost to the client. Like many experts, you can rely on the ‘cost plus’ method, which entails contracting the labor, supplies and materials necessary for the event and charging 10-20% of the total cost.
Traditionally, you’ll need to contact the venue, vendors, suppliers, equipment rentals, license and permit authorities, transportation personnel, staffing companies, speakers, invitation printers, mail services, and signage. Talk to three providers for each of these services and calculate the lowest and highest costs you can incur. Don’t forget to factor in a small amount for unseen expenses before quoting your estimate to your client.
Tips to Create a Successful Corporate Event for Profit
Once you’ve taken care of the aforementioned details, it’s time for you to create your first corporate event. Since you’re on a learning curve, here are five tips to inspire you and ensure your (and the event’s) success.
- Always Do Your Homework – Research is one of the best practices for event planners, especially since it can reduce risks. For larger events, research is ensuring that there’s a demand for the event before moving on to researching vendors and suppliers. Research also entails talking with other planners who produced similar events or you learning about custom and etiquette mandatory for the type of event entrusted to you.
- If You Have Time, Sketch Your Design – When it comes to the event’s design, your clients may not see eye to eye on certain themes. This is especially true if you make them picture the setup through your words. The best way to make them see what you do is by sketching the overall look and feel of the event. However, remember the age-old mantra ‘the client is always right’ and focus on satisfying their needs rather than your creativity.
- Ensure Proper Communication between All Participants – In addition to establishing healthy dialog between your client and you, you need to have planners and vendors on your speed dials to ensure that they satisfy your clients’ requirements and deliver on time. Communication also irons out possible areas of confusion, especially when it comes to defining the roles of staff.
- Allow Pre-Event Networking – One of the top tips to ensuring the success of your upcoming corporate event is helping attendees break the ice. Even a happy hour before the program you planned will help everyone socialize and eliminate any awkwardness during the event itself.
- Always have a Plan B for Everything – While research can help you eliminate last minute changes, you always need to anticipate which aspects will be late, unavailable or very, very wrong. Therefore, have a backup plan for each element of the event to save your reputation and avoid disappointing your clients.
Creating corporate events for profit will demand your time and effort, but the money you make in return will make everything you invest worthwhile.