Before I walked through the doors of The Castle Group, I had no idea event planning was a real career that people actually got paid for. But once I got a taste of this business I never looked back. I am lucky to have started my career in a place where I cut my teeth on all types of events. There are important tenets that I learned at Castle that I carry with me today. These five tools help me elevate and amplify the events I am creating now on all levels.
Attention to detail
Details are of paramount importance when it comes to event planning. I am not talking about the surface kind of details you might be thinking of – flowers, food, lighting, etc. When I think about details that matter it’s the nitty gritty stuff: rooming lists that are hundreds of lines long, budgets that are twisting and complex, convention center space plans that encompass the best use of 200,000 square feet or client presentations that must wow and set you apart from competitors. Those are the details that keep me employed.
You have to have a deep passion to find longevity in this business. I genuinely love providing a forum that allows people to come together and conduct the business they need to. The opportunity to provide a unique canvas that allows others to succeed has me jumping out of bed in the morning. I simply love it and if you don’t love it, you won’t last long, which brings me to my next point…..
Be ready for the dirty work
Often times I think people not in the industry are surprised to find out it’s not all glitz and glamour – it’s long, irregular hours, tons of travel and I’ve spent a surprising amount of time working on the floor of hotels, airports and convention centers. On site at an event my hands are always filthy and I go through a gallon of Purell. After long haul shows, sometimes my feet are so beat up I can’t feel my toes for a week. Most people don’t consider this, but a passionate event planner accepts it daily. It is just part of the territory.
Whenever I do an informational interview with someone who is interested in getting into the field, I always ask them if they are willing to clean a bathroom. No, I don’t expect you to be a janitor, and if an event runs perfectly, you won’t even need to think about stuff like that, but I ask that as a judgment of your willingness to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Because you will need to. And yes, I once had to clean a bathroom after a toilet overflowed in the venue’s main facility.
A solid team is a must – and the best part of the job!
No one person is responsible for the success of an event, and the best events are a reflection of a diverse team with different strengths that worked together to build it. I think similar personality types flock to this industry, so I have been lucky enough to walk away from every job with former colleagues I now consider friends and trusted advisors. I regularly seek their advice and expertise.
It’s ok to make mistakes
I can think of a few doozies I have made in my career and since this industry breeds perfectionists, those mistakes can really eat me up. But the fact of the matter is that 98% of the time, what you know as a planner was a mistake or a miss, goes unnoticed by attendees. Recognize when it is ok to let a mistake go, and move on to the next thing.
In my book, a successful event has attendees floating out the door invigorated by the opportunity to come together, feeling that it was worth their time to step away from their busy lives, ready to sign up for the next event, and never having given a single thought to all those things I listed above. If I see that as they head home, I feel like I can give myself a little pat on the back.
Jenny Hoefel started her career at The Castle Group as an intern in 2005, where her favorite event she planned was the Symantec Mobile Marketing Tour in 2007. She is currently an Event Manager at Zillow Group planning trade marketing and staff events.