What We Wish Our Clients Knew About Event Planning


Spring is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited about bright blooms being around every corner, and the sun shining through the normally foggy clouds. And of course, it means our inbox is full of inquiries about fall + holiday events. There’s nothing we love more than an all out dash to close out the year, so outfitting an event with strategy and style (and lots of holiday sparkle!) is one of our favorite conversations.

But we’ve noticed questions that nearly always comes up in that conversation, so today we’re addressing the most commonly asked ones and spilling what we wish all our clients knew about event planning.

1. We can’t quote an event budget on the first call

We know….buzzkill right? Everyone’s first and biggest ask is “How much will something like this cost?”. And we get it: we’ve planned hundreds of events, so it seems logical that we could estimate the cost of an event off-the-cuff, right…?

But here’s the thing:

Every Kennedy Events production is completely custom, and there are dozens of factors that influence the end cost. Venue selection, catering, union considerations, attendee size, your goals...the list is too long to write out here, so just know that it’s a complex beast. And our job is to plan an event that meets your goals and gives great ROI, so we can’t just freestyle about what those costs might be.

So, although it’s frustrating to not get an off-the-cuff estimate, we gather critical data before giving numbers, making sure that the experience is great every step of the way (because no one likes surprise costs). In fact, each event is so custom that even our proposals are bespoke for each event.

We believe that great events require thoughtful decision making, so we need a very deep dive to make sure we’re getting down to what elements are actually going to support your goals.

So when you send that first hello email, you can expect that we’ll ask thoughtful questions before coming up with your custom proposal. While we won’t be able to give you a cost estimate right away, but once engaged, we’ll do our part to dig into the numbers in a meaningful way, and starting creating a solid budget that avoids all those nasty surprises.



2. There are Certain Things That You Shouldn’t Do Yourself

We don’t bring our egos to work. Executing your event is about meeting your goals, not about us showing off. So we’re nimble in response to your needs, and we’re certainly not an “all or nothing” company; that wouldn’t make sense for services as custom as we provide! But we’re also really specific about not giving up control of managing certain pieces because we know how critical they are to your success.

Venue selection? Don’t go it alone!

Hidden union labor charges, securing enough load in days, being locked into certain vendors... these are all areas that can trip up an event budget and your final results. Knowing that Kennedy Events truly gets what type of venue will be a perfect match for you, let us guide the process.

Budget management, vendor management, and project management ...

We strongly encourage our clients to let us take the reins on this. With 100% transparency, you will be in the know, without all the headaches.

So that’s why we make sure that our proposals are exceptionally thorough.

In our proposal process, we have a chance to assign ownership of the hundreds of tasks you may not realize were essentials. Delegating all these tasks between you and Kennedy Events might feel unnecessary, but we’ve found it’s essential to the success of the event. Even something as siloed as registration can unearth 200 details (who is building the website page, who answers the dozens of incoming emails about diet restrictions, and do you need scannable name badges?) and know who is doing what lets us price our proposal and gives clarity moving forward.

To cover every possible detail (and avoid unpleasant surprises!) our scope of work is incredibly thorough in order to make the final production as excellent as it can be.



3. Your Budget Should Reserve 20-25% for the Production Company Fee

We know...this might seem high.

But hear us out on this:

That 20-25% isn’t because the Kennedy Events team likes to drive Ferraris, or because we’re handing out iPads in the swag bags (but if you know anyone who has a spare Ferrari, we sure won’t say no).

It’s because we’ve seen over and over again the level of attention we need to devote to an event to make it truly successful. This number isn’t random: it comes from closely tracking the costs on events for many years, knowing exactly what support you need for your event. Planning ahead for this cost is the best way to save time and headache for everyone involved. Plus, it’s the best way to ensure that you’re getting the best ROI possible on your event.

But, we should clarify… this is a rule of thumb only. Like we mentioned above, each of our events is bespoke, and, thus, so is our scope of work and fee. But if you are looking for a quick ballpark number, we suggest 20% - 25%. If you want a more specific number, send us an email and we can dig in to get you some concrete figures.

Are you planning an event in 2018-2019 in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or anywhere in between?

We’d love to be part of it.

If you’re hosting a corporate party, gala, picnic, conference, or launch this year and want to make sure you end up being toasted by your colleagues, instead of roasted by them, then let’s chat.


Paige Buck