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Inside Kendall

Event Planning: Much More Than a Great Party

By Sarah Schmidt, Kendall’s Digital Marketing Coordinator

Any experienced planner will be quick to tell you there is no typical day in their job—and that is what they love about it. Whether you work in a hotel or private planning firm, the best part of the position is that no two days look alike. The ability to navigate an unstructured schedule and tackle last-minute changes is both a skill and a challenge for event planners and part of what makes the job fun.

For years, I was an event planner for a high-end hotel in downtown Chicago. The 500-room property hosted concerts, parties, weddings, and meetings. Though I had the luxury of knowing the space and my staff, I was challenged with a rotating list of clients and events. It was my job to keep all the parts moving and give our guests the best experiences possible.

Each day, I began by assessing and tackling a to-do list: Clients to call, meetings to schedule and programs to detail. Each required time and focus. Contrary to popular belief, event planners spend a great deal of time in their offices, outlining events, creating menus and designing room sets and audiovisual needs. I could spend up to two hours on the phone with a bride talking through her wedding day from start to finish. From the time to expect the florist to the special dietary needs of her family—no detail was too small. Given the complexity of a hotel and its many departments, working to understand the specific needs of an event was crucial. There is a lot of room for error if specifics are missed.

In addition to planning, I also catered to the needs of my on-site clients. At any given time, I had two or three client meetings or clients who needed our team to set up an evening event in the hotel. Though our banquets and convention services team would set up their room and execute the program I had detailed, I was there to help nurture and facilitate the event on behalf of the client. Clients and businesses can meet or hold an event anywhere; the relationships I built and maintained made it easier for them to keep coming back, increasing our business and my success.

When everything is planned and details are communicated, the best part of an event planner’s day is executing the event. I was on hand to monitor the set-up, check the details and presentation of the food, servers’ appearances, listen and translate clients’ needs, and answer questions from vendors. I was the eyes of the client and the mind of the hotel, assessing how things looked and what we were doing, but also keeping in mind the capabilities of our staff. As many event planners will agree, I loved managing each event and being the expert to answer questions. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing all the moving parts come together and to have clients who are thrilled with their events.

An event planner’s work hours can be long and varied. Just as there is no typical day, there is often no typical schedule. Events can begin early in the morning or go late into the evening, Monday through Sunday. What makes it all worth it? The satisfaction of building a strong professional reputation and perfecting a party.

Sarah Schmidt is the digital marketing coordinator for Kendall College.

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