8 Things to Look For in an Event Planning Program
If you’ve finally decided that event planning is the career for you, one of the best things you can do for your career is to take an event planning course. By taking a course, you’ll learn all the essential skills to succeed in the event management and planning industry.
Besides the certificate or diploma at the end of your studies, you can reasonably predict the kinds of things you’ll learn: the logistics of planning an event, the kinds of vendors you’ll need to be familiar with, and what goes into event programming. But not all programs are created equal. Some programs may focus too much on theory over its practical application, where other programs may not have adequate student support to guide you through the material.
What else should you be looking for in an event planning program besides the obvious budgeting, marketing, coordinating, etc., aspects of the job? Keep reading for our list of the 8 things to look for in an event planning program!
All plans should come with an exit strategy. No, it doesn’t mean that you bail on the event if something were to go wrong! It means that you’re expected to help your clients prevent potential problems from arising and to come up with solutions on-the-go so that the event can finish its run as smoothly as possible.
This is an integral part of the planning process because risk management is applied at every stage. Risk management comes in when you’re scouting out venues, budgeting for entertainment, sourcing the caterers, and securing sponsorships. Many programs might weave aspects of risk management into the individual sections of the course, but we firmly believe it’s important enough to have its own unit (at least!).
Learning to evaluate your work is one of the most important things you can do. Not only does it help you visualize what went right, what went okay, and what went wrong during an event, but it can also give you valuable insight into your own planning skills. If something didn’t go as smoothly and efficiently as you had hoped, how can you improve? Learning how to evaluate your event from an emotional distance with a clear head is absolutely necessary if you want to have a successful business! Make sure your program teaches how to do this.
A lot of event planners work with small planning companies or are self-employed. As such, many programs include business units or additional business courses so that graduates are fully-prepared to launch their careers right from the get-go.
You can expect to learn how to draft contracts and event proposals, conduct industry research, market your business, as well as learn how to network and build/maintain industry contacts. Stripped-down event planning programs may exclude these business aspects, but you may want to look for courses that specifically advertise this depending on your ultimate career goals.
Cultural Variations and Sensitivity
As the event industry expands, more and more groups are seeking to throw events outside of the basic corporate party theme or formal church wedding. Understanding different cultural variations of weddings and throwing events around sensitive issues isn’t something that can be improvised. As an event planner, you have to take into consideration not only your clients, but their guests and invitees of the event you’re planning. The last thing you want is a PR disaster for the company who hired you.
Optimistically you walk away unscathed, but realistically? You might have to change your business name.
Your Course Providers:
Is the course a mixture of both theory and application?
Event planning is very much a hands-on career. You cannot learn how to properly execute an event by having your head in the clouds! In real life, there are all sorts of factors you have to consider. On paper you may not have to consider the consequences of a freak storm, or how to chase down contracted vendors who aren’t perfectly reliable or professional. Textbooks without case studies or courses without fieldwork can only present so many scenarios—your course needs to be able to teach you how to think on your feet!
If your school has a money-back guarantee, it can be a great way for you to enroll, check out the course first-hand, and see if it’s right for you. The last thing you want to do is enroll blindly and after spending thousands of dollars on a program, find out that it’s not what you wanted.
Is the instructor an industry professional?
Make sure you find out who your instructors are. Credible institutions will offer a list of instructors for their event planning programs. Just like in prestigious universities, the instructors should be industry professionals with many years of experience. When it comes to this type of career, experience is essential. Having a reputable instructor can nurture your critical thinking abilities and give you insider tips on how to give your clients the best possible service. Learning from the best can give you a leg-up when you graduate. Who knows, perhaps you develop a great relationship with your instructor and go on to work with them in a professional capacity!
Are the tutors providing you with constructive feedback?
Your instructors and tutors should not just be giving you a letter grade and leaving it at that. If that was the point, all your tests would be multiple-choice and on scantron—why are you even bothering with the course? To help yourself improve and be able to work in the real world, you want to get as much feedback as possible at every opportunity.
There’s always room to improve, so having tutors who only compliment you on your work are actually doing you a disservice! Your clients in real life will be telling you what they like and don’t like about your plans, so you need to get used to it.
Are there any program success stories?
If your event planning course has many successful graduates, the school is probably advertising it proudly! You can judge how good a program is based on all the criteria mentioned above, but the best evidence of a great program is the long list of successful entrepreneurs who have undergone the course.
As with the instructors, there is probably evidence of the success or failure of these key graduates online and in the industry. Yes, hard work and a bit of luck is an integral part of succeeding in the field, but having a well-rounded education is fundamental, too! Otherwise, how would they know where to start?
Do some research into what graduates have to say about the program, and see if these graduates were able to accomplish what they had hoped to when they started their education. Another key place to find this feedback? Through Facebook reviews!