By: Fabiana Scott
As event planners and designers have raised profit margins over 35% in the last decade, it’s also seen an influx of newbies coming into the scene. It’s remarkable for any industry to increase margins this significantly, but this isn’t an industry you can just walk into. Although I don’t blame anyone for thinking they could ― it sounds simple.
If you haven’t tried it yourself, next time you are walking through Manhattan, go for a stroll through the NYC Flower District. It radiates inspiration and creativity. I can’t blame people for desiring to dip their toes in floral arrangements and events.
But the floral and events industry has a lot of secrets ― secrets you can only learn while working in it for a while. You simply cannot do what we do on a daily basis without the unique skill sets required. After 16 years in high-end event planning and floral arrangement industry, here is the shortlist I’ve come up with for success.
1) Be passionate. Own it.
You might have been successful at throwing a friend’s wedding, or more simply, you might have a deep love for flowers. This does not prepare you for the massive amounts of overtime and countless stressors you will face each day. In order to properly execute a perfectly seamless event, own it through your passion for it. Customers will not always be easy either - that’s okay when you have the passion to work through it.
[Related: Your Purpose is to Follow your Passion]
2) Be flexible, adaptable and resourceful.
Don’t think that in order to be in the events industry you need to be an excessively artist-like creative. In an era of shrinking budgets, increased competition and shorter lead times, you can be creative by staying flexible, adaptable and resourceful.
Things are always moving under you and changing constantly. Your challenge is to build an amazing experience to your clients amidst constant change and sometimes turmoil. In the events industry, regardless of your expertise, you must always have a card to play up your sleeve. Have a plan B and a plan C ready to go.
Train yourself to open all the channels of your mind and relax into the whirlwind that is the-day-of-the-event. Be agile and problem-solve quickly. Always be willing to change the entire course at the last minute when necessary. It’s going to happen.
3) Be quick, precise, and stay a step ahead.
If you are a disorganized creative this industry is not for you, unless you can organize a very strong team. In the meantime, have a complete system to prepare for events. This should be detailed from sales call to event day.
To stay ahead, make friends in every industry ― car delivery, bike messenger, container specialists, candle store, party rental, lighting rental... all of them! Account for the unthinkable. Foresee potential threats and risks like holidays or rush hour traffic. The most creative people have a tendency to be disorganized. Don’t be one of them. If you can’t do it, hire someone to keep you organized.
Keep records of procedures, check lists, maintaining all information in one place. If a crisis occurs, act quickly. Be precise and be ready to delegate clear problem-solving instructions to specific members on your team. You don’t have time to try an answer ― make an answer happen.
4) Be able to remain calm, cool and collected at all times.
Clients, vendors, and attendees look to you to take the lead on everything. More importantly than that, everyone is looking to you for the tone of setup and breakdown. Be aware of your presence in every situation. You are often the unrecognized mood-setter for everyone. Every event will have a hiccup. Someone miscounts the flowers, a box has mysteriously vanished, a dropped centerpiece is broken and unusable. Expect it. (I think you’re getting the picture about preparedness).
If you can smile through the calamity and remain calm through the fixing process, you win. The best problem is one your client will never discover, because you already had it covered.
5) Have the ability to listen and understand your clients’ goals.
As an aspiring high-end event professional, you are required to be a great listener. You must be able to take in an impressive amount of information. Clients will always want to share their ideas, opinions and advice with you. It’s okay, allow them to. Reply thoughtfully, with your knowledge and vision.
Picture the the event coming together in your head. Imagine the theme, the targeted attendee audience, the city, the venue, the design/decor, speakers, entertainment, cuisine, sponsors. The true purpose of an event is to achieve your client’s goals and deliver the best possible experience.
6) Have fun along the way, & have humility.
As a more savvy event professional, be aware that the event isn’t about you, your needs, or your ego. It is all about the client and their guests. Ego, drama and showboating only get in the way of your success.
Treat your team and clients with respect, appreciating every single effort and contribution they add to the final result. Your success only happens through collaboration and clear direction on every task. If you learn to smile and have fun with your team, you get triple points!
Fabiana Scot is the go-to floral designer, event planner and event coach for high style/high-end events in New York City and the surrounding area.