A Day In the Life of an Event Planner
Quick review of the week ahead's calendar...
You know that meme that went around illustrating a single job and peoples' perception of that job? (ie, What my mom thinks I do, What my friends think I do, What I actually do?). I think the best way to explain the discrepancy between what people think I do and what I actually do can be described by looking at the title "Event Planner".... Most people see "EVENT" and think champagne and confetti and free tickets to glamorous events. What I see is "PLANNER".... picking a date/theme/vendor, compulsively investigating new ideas, negotiating contracts, and on-site management with a dose of OCD.
While some professionals have strong opinions about the title "Event Planner" versus all the others (Party Planner, Experiential Event Manager, Event Producer), we'll save that topic for another day and take a look at a Day in the Life of this profession. Here goes...
(ok I'm cheating here a bit and allowing myself an extra hour in this story because no great day starts without preparation). Mental checklist begins - Lunch? Packed. Phone? Charging. Quick review of the week ahead's calendar..... Shoot I forgot about Aunt Ann's birthday. No card in the mail for her, but let's add a reminder to email her a nice note tomorrow. Sleep.
Ideally, I'd start my day with exercise. This happens....sometimes. When it does, the annoying, nagging insecurities and concerns fall by the wayside when I run, (even if only temporarily). So, instead of hitting snooze and the anxiety of my incomplete production schedule entering my sort-of-awake dream-state, I empower myself to take on the day, while jogging around my neighborhood to an energizing mix of Britney Spears jams.
(Fast-forward through rest of getting ready, and mundane commute)
Arrival at the office.... coffee. Before anything else. COFFEE. Chat and weekend catch-up with co-workers. This is important. Much of this industry is relationship driven. Friendliness is important.
The next step of my day is reviewing my to-do list and prioritizing. This is major. I ask myself the following questions:
- Whose day will be easier if they hear from me earlier rather than later?
- What will keep me up tonight if it's not complete by the end of the day?
- What am I least looking forward to doing?
These are the things I try to do first. The day continues with a continual hum of interruption...phone calls, instant messages, texts, incoming emails, desk drive-bys - and while this used to frustrate me, I've learned to embrace it. No day is the same, and timelines and to-do lists are not linear. The process is a continuum of looking at the big picture, then zooming in and identifying the tiniest and most granular of details.
The actual tasks? It's managing a load in & out schedule for a conference, picking linens for a dinner, ordering plants because a client wants a "greener" event environment. It's collaborating with a team on a future event's theme, brainstorming how to make this year's event the BEST even when last year's was really insanely amazing and over-the-top. It's calling to apologize to a vendor that you need to modify your furniture order AGAIN. It's trying to source a vendor that will do a live glass-blowing demonstration and remembering to check what the fire code rules are at the venue.
The day may end with assisting a colleague with an event load-in that evening, or yes, going to one of those industry events and Instagramming them, further adding to the notion that everything we do is SUPER FUN AND GLAMOUROUS. It also may end in a stack of rooming lists that have to be cross-checked and a budget that has to be reconciled immediately because the client's AP department forgot to mention that deadline in advance.
So there is no completely "average" day.... except that each day is crafted around an effort to create order amongst the chaos, with the ultimate goal of delivering joy and relevant content to the guests at our events. If a glass-blower is what it takes, rest-assured, I'll find it.