Are you ready to become a millionaire event planner? It takes more than someone willing to write a healthy check in your name. It takes skill, organization, incredible patience and possibly some of these magic ingredients.
What’s the difference between those event planners who organize exclusive soirees and run million dollar businesses and those who are just scraping by? You’re both dealing with demanding schedules and last-minute issues, difficult personalities and unregistered guests, but what are they doing that you’re not? Here are 7 skills millionaire event planners have cultivated over the years to keep them earning top dollar.
It Takes One Person to Open the Door
How do you play on a new playground? By playing there. The same is true of event planners. Liz Taylor of the Millionaire Party Planner show fame frequently plans charitable events. If you can get people to open their wallets for a good cause, you can get them to open their wallets for you, again and again. Referrals are everything when you’re working at this level. Her clients the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aren’t making calls, shopping around event planners. They’re asking specifically for someone who did the last event they attended and enjoyed.
Look and Act the Part
While it may be hard to justify, operating at this level of event planning means making sizeable investments in yourself because you are the event brand. Your look, clothes, style, car, even your tablet speaks to your abilities. No one will pay top dollar to you to plan their event if you drive up in a car with a busted muffler and old soda cans rattling around in the back seat. While most of us aren’t doing that, there is a certain refinement and look required and that may involve upgrading your wardrobe or even the technology you use to appear to service this millionaire group before you actually do.
Find a Niche
Word-of-mouth is essential in a millionaire event planner business. It’s how you’ll land most of your jobs. Finding a niche and becoming known for something makes it much easier to build a personal brand. Maybe it’s “Sweet Sixteen” parties MTV-style or maybe it’s million-dollar charity events, find an area you want to work in and concentrate building a portfolio of those events. While there’s a risk in putting all of your eggs in one basket (what if next year the whole world decides “Sweet Sixteen” parties are ridiculously frivolous and no one wants to host them?), building a brand is one of the most important things you can do. Look at Colin Cowie who parlayed his wedding and event planning into a line of home décor – all because his brand was associated as one of style. Preston Bailey partnered with the Wedding Institute to offer a wedding and event design course. That comes from branding, not just skill.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No to Clients
The flip side of developing a niche is knowing when someone’s event does not fit into your ideal. This means turning down work. This is one of the hardest lessons for any business owner, but if you tie up your time working with people who are not in your ideal demographic that is taking time away from finding someone in your sweet spot. Just as you may say “no” to dessert if you’re watching your waistline or trying to make healthier choices, you should exercise the same control over your event business. It should not be one-size-fits-all. If you want to plan exclusive events, you need to be exclusive in selecting clients. After all, they will be the source of your next client. If you veer off the road to success to take someone on who’s not your ideal, any person they refer your way will be the same.
Not only must you select the right clients but you must command a price too. You need to feel confident in what you are asking for because you bring a value that’s worth it.
Work the Referral Engine
As mentioned earlier, events of this echelon, and hosts with deep pockets, don’t dial a directory of event planners. They ask for referrals from friends and peers who have thrown similar events. That’s why it’s essential to build your referral network and learn all you can about referral marketing. At this level of the industry, who you know is everything. Consider investing in memberships that will give you access to the right people, network with managers at expensive venues, volunteer your services at established nonprofits that place you close to large donors who can give you experience on high ticket events.
Upgrade Your Team
If you like to handle everything yourself, you’re going to have some difficulty moving into the millionaire event planner set. Not only must you have a team for the sheer size of what you’re often planning but your team is going to need to be comprised of people well-known in their own right. This means big name, or at least medium-sized named, entertainment, celebrity chefs, and party favors from major designers. With most of these events the names of those “working” it are as important as the experience itself.
The only part of your team that needn’t be known is security but at a high-dollar event, you better be prepared for tight, professional security that runs with the precision of a well-orchestrated dance team.
You’re Not Hemmed in by Budget So Make It Extraordinary
Having a budget is incredibly frustrating when you have an extraordinary vision of what could be. For millionaire event planners, the budget is less of an obstacle but because they are freed on that end, they need to come up with amazing experiences. You may need to hire set designers. Seriously.
A lot of these big budget events are asking people for large donations or high ticket prices to attend. Giving them something spectacular is just part of the job. For a party that featured the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, and Prince Henry, Liz Taylor transformed Kensington Palace into a magical winter forest, complete with a ballerina dancing on top of a 12-foot music box, in just three weeks’ time.
In order to transform your event planning business into a million-dollar one, you need exposure, branding, and a niche. Sometimes that niche is something as simple as taking an event on with very little lead time and making magic happen. When you can do something no one else can – or no one else wants to - you can become the go-to person for that type of event and the go-to person can name his/her price.