How to Start an Event and Meeting Planning Business

December 23, 2013 | By | Reply More

Starting an Event and Meeting Planning Business series:

event and meeting planning business


If you are thinking of a career in event and meeting planning, there is a lucrative market awaiting you on many fronts. An event, whether big or small, always require planning and preparation. As families, corporations, and organizations involved may not have the time, resources, expertise or inclination to organize the event, they turn to professional event planners to handle everything for them. They seek the help of event planners to turn their events into a memorable and successful one.

The demand for event and meeting planners has grown significantly over the years. According to the market research firm IBISWorld, the convention and trade show organizer business is a $6 billion industry in 2013. Given that the business is driven by corporate profit and disposable income, the industry was hit hard by the recession. It has not recovered fully from the depressed market in the early 2000s which saw attendance levels decrease, budgets slashed and events downsized.

One important attraction of this business to freelancers, particularly those who are home-based, is the fact that it is a broad industry offering various niche areas where you can choose to specialize. For example, the market for social events covers a wide range of events such as birthdays and anniversaries. This market is expected to continue to increase over the next few years as baby boomers mature — their children will get married, their grandchildren will celebrate birthdays, parents will celebrate golden anniversaries, and plenty of reunions to organize.

What Does an Event and Meeting Planner Do?

Below are some of the key tasks that a full-service event planner performs for the clients:

  • Determine client’s needs and expectations
  • Plan and create the overall design of the event
  • Develop timelines and production schedules
  • Manage the operations team or support staff
  • Coordinate and provide service to the clients and vendors as needed (even 24 hours!)
  • Oversee all aspects of the event execution
  • Select and secure appropriate vendors to supply all components of the event
  • Monitor and evaluate the event

Be warned though: this business can be tough. As an event planner, your work can often exceed the 9-to-5 grind and you may be expected to work on evenings, weekends and even holidays. Strong competition also exists, particularly with corporate accounts, as organizers vie to oversee major events. Some venues such as large exhibition centers and major companies already have their own in-house organization team, and may only outsource to freelancers small aspects of the event.
event and meeting planning business

Required Skills Needed for an Event and Meeting Planning Business

Excellence in planning and love of logistics are some of the key characteristics an event planner must possess to succeed in the business. To exceed a client’s expectations from beginning to end you must develop the necessary skills to succeed. Having the ability to do it all and knowing your audience are both important steps to a career in event planning.

Below are some characteristics and skills you need in order to become a good event planner and succeed in this business:

  • Possess high energy and stamina
  • Efficient and well-organized
  • Creative and imaginative
  • Self-motivated and driven
  • Excellent people skills
  • Knows how to motivate people
  • Ability to multi-task at once, and work to tight schedules
  • Ability to think fast on their feet
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Extroverted
  • Has a can-do attitude
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Has excellent communication skills
  • Has good business, marketing, negotiating and selling skills
  • Flexible, and able to deal with last-minute changes and conflicting demands on time
  • Able to lead a team, supervise and delegate tasks
  • Has good project, time-management and problem-solving skills
  • Likes working with a wide variety of people


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Recommended Books on Starting an Event and Meeting Planning Business:


Jenny Fulbright

Jenny Fulbright

Jenny Fulbright is a writer for

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