Strong collaboration and relationship-building skills are absolutely essential to effective event management. Sometimes things go wrong; good planners are able to handle the situation with professionalism, respect and tact. Yelling or belittling others will only alienate them -- and might ultimately ruin the event.
I'm often asked by people who want to get into the planning field about the types of personalities that are best suited to our profession. While there are no hard and fast rules, I've noticed that the best planners share certain key traits and qualities, such as the following.
You are destined for misery in this profession if you think your meticulous timeline will be strictly observed or your CEO-approved, rock-solid budget won't be modified at least once. Planning meetings is all about adapting to change, and good planners are able to do this and go with the flow.
Organized and Energetic
Event planning is not for the faint-hearted. Coordinating a challenging function is similar to having multiple tennis-ball machines firing at you while you are armed with just a flimsy Ping-Pong paddle.
Successful planners have to be masters at orchestrating multiple, complex projects. They often need to plan several concurrent events at the same time. They manage budgets, mentor a team, design and execute marketing, book talent, oversee operations and plan content. And they thrive in these high-stress scenarios.
Dedicated...At All Hours
If you are looking for a profession that adheres strictly to "normal business hours," meaning a 40-hour, 9-to-5 work week, or one that keeps your weekends and holidays free, then meeting and event planning is not the career for you.
Planners typically keep long hours. They often need to work within the time zone of suppliers in the destination where their events will be held. And in the weeks and days leading up to a big event, and especially during the meeting itself, they need to be accessible on a round-the-clock basis.
Driven by Ethics
Planners are constantly showered with invitations to stay at beautiful properties and visit gorgeous destinations. While taking suppliers up on these enticing offers is tempting, true professionals accept fam trips or conduct site inspections of places only if the sites in question are under legitimate consideration for their business. For example, you would not take a trip to a glamorous high-end place like Dubai if your group typically meets in a midscale hotel within 100 miles of its Midwest headquarters.
Motivated by More Than Travel
While it's fine to consider this field in part because you love to travel, keep in mind that planners rarely have time to kick back and enjoy that gorgeous beach, verdant botanical gardens or renowned local museum. Most meeting professionals consider it a bonus if they get off-property and see something other than the airport, meeting space and their hotel room once the event is up and running.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.