The Most Important Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring an Event Manager
It’s only February, but event prep season is coming up (we know, we’re just getting over the holidays too!). It may seem absurd to start planning now, but the year’s best events get planned months in advance, sometimes more than a year in advance.
And the very first step to planning your event (other than your venue, of course!)?
Finding the perfect event planner.
But that’s no simple task…
How do you know that someone is going to be just right for your event?
We’re here to help:
We’ve curated our list of questions to ask potential planners to ensure that you’re hiring the best possible event planner for your event.
Hiring an event planner is a major expense, and in many cases is as expensive as hiring an employee for the year. And hosting an event is like hiring an entire department! That’s why it’s so critical to make the right choice when hiring an event planner because there’s a clear “deadline” (the event itself) and making a less than optimal choice can lead to disastrous event results.
Questions to ask potential event planners:
Who will I be working with? Principles, or Juniors?
It’s good to know the level of experience of the primary person that you’ll be working with. If you do a sales call with the principle, but then get relegated solely to junior level planners, the expectation and experience may not match up.
Do you have a team? Who is my main point of contact?
No event planner is an island, and no corporation should expect one to be. The best event planners have a highly-skilled well trained team performing with them, yet at the same time, have one main point of contact. This keeps things efficient for the client, and it’s important to know who you’ll interface with the most, because you and that person will be talking, a lot.
Have you done events like this before, of this size and scale?
This is a great question to ask, and here’s what you should be looking for: moving parts. Not number of attendees, not length of event, but the sheer complexity of the event. That’s a much bigger tell of a planner’s expertise than attendee number ever will be.
What tools do you use to keep yourself organized? How and how often do you report to clients? Is your team internally organized?
“Lots of checklists!” isn’t a good enough answer. You should be looking for someone that uses a thorough project management software. Does the planner want to chat weekly, or do they think quarterly is enough? Getting a sense of their communication and organizational style will be a big indicator for how your experience with them will be.
What do you imagine your role to be on site? What other support do you recommend for the day of?
Even the best event planner can’t be in multiple places at once. You should look for someone who knows they need a great support staff during the event, and knows who those people should be. Great event planners also use tools like walkie talkies to communicate (because cell service at events can get spotty).
Look for creative thinking. Will this team come up with various themes, mood boards, etc? Do you see creativity and versatility in their event portfolio?
While this isn’t so much a direct question as it is an assessment, this is an important part of the process. An event planner shouldn’t be a one trick pony, outfitting each event in the same style. Look for creative problem solving, flexibility, and strategic diversity in aesthetics.
Does the planner have a realistic sense of what is possible?
Look for someone who knows the realistic limits of planning an event. Having pushback on unrealistic expectations is a GOOD thing. You don’t just want a “YES!” person to all kinds of crazy requests because you’ll end up paying for that in the end.
What will you do if….?
Considering the worst case scenario is important. A good event planner won’t be afraid to look around the corner, so to speak, to see what might be lurking there. She’ll face a problem head-on, and get creative. Get specific: What happens if a crowd is waiting for the mayor to speak...and he doesn’t show up? What happens if the mayor is there...but the crowd isn’t? Dive into that worst case scenario and test their problem-solving abilities.
If you’re really getting serious...ask these questions:
How would you ensure this event comes in on time and on-budget?
Can you give me examples of how a timeline got out of alignment and how you fixed it?
Where can budgets explode, and how will you contain that?
This is probably more questions than you asked your spouse on your first date (or second, or third…) but hiring an event planner is a big commitment, and hiring the right person is critical to the success of the your event. These questions will make sure that you get it right, and ultimately have an event that meets your goals.
Have more Questions?
Paige Buck is the co-owner of Kennedy Events is a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals.
About Kennedy Events
Kennedy Events began with one goal in mind — to produce high-level corporate events with just as much strategy as style. Maggie founded the company in 2000, found her match in Paige, and in 2011 the two became official partners. Since then, these two resourceful and brilliant creatives have pooled their strengths to build one one of the most the most sought after corporate event companies in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.
Make sure that your event is as valuable to your company as it is meaningful to your attendee.
We’ve (nearly) done it all when it comes to large scale events.