Education and Training: High school; art, design, entertainment, and/or business backgrounds helpful
Salary: Average range—$20 to $40 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Party planners conceive, organize, and execute special affairs such as corporate receptions, weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and bar and bat mitzvahs. They custom design an event to suit their customers' needs and budgets.
Party planners, sometimes called party consultants, assume various responsibilities depending on their clients' requests. They begin by meeting with customers to determine the type of party they would like to host and the amount of money they wish to spend. Party planners listen to clients' ideas and also make their own suggestions. Next they visit the site chosen for the event and take pictures, measure the space, and draw up floor plans. This information is key to transforming the site to suit the occasion.
Party planners often do extensive research and assume all responsibilities for planning a party, from ordering the food and sending the invitations to making special parking arrangements. They must also be present during the event to handle any problems that arise. In addition, they remain at the site after the affair is over to supervise the cleanup.
Education and Training Requirements
There are no special educational requirements for party planners; however, large hotels and casinos—which employ many planners—prefer to hire high school graduates. Many people who become party planners have worked in a related area such as art, design, or the entertainment field.
Party planners need a good imagination, an eye for detail, and sound business sense. They must be both creative and organized. Good communication skills and the ability to work with all types of people are essential. Party planners should also have a working knowledge of set design and construction, interior design, costuming, floral arranging, and entertainment.
Getting the Job
To obtain a job as a party planner, interested individuals should apply directly to hotels, casinos, or party-planning companies for an entry-level position. Party planners who choose to start their own businesses need a considerable amount of money for the initial investment, contacts in the catering business, and a great deal of determination.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Party planners advance by reputation. Those who organize successful parties for hotels and casinos bring new and repeat business to their establishments; those who own their own businesses become well known in their communities. The most successful party planners advance by organizing progressively larger and more complex events.
Since the mid-1990s parties have become increasingly personalized and innovative. This trend has spurred the development of party planning as an important business. The demand for party planners should be strong through the year 2014. As with other jobs in the personal services industry, however, the outlook for party planners is tied to the state of the economy. In a recession, people tend to spend less money and entertain less elaborately.
Party planners spend much of their time at the site of an event and on the phone with suppliers. The work can be demanding and stressful with extensive arrangements to be completed and deadlines to be met. Therefore, party planners must be good multi-taskers who can deal with unexpected problems calmly and effectively.
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings for party planners vary greatly, ranging from $20 to $40 per hour. Those working for hotels and casinos are salaried, whereas others who work for party-planning firms may be paid by the hour or by the event. Self-employed party planners often charge from $1,000 to $3,000 per event. Some charge a flat fee for their services; others charge a percentage of the cost of the entire party.
Where to Go for More Information
International Special Events Society
401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611-4267
5200 Kanan Rd., Ste. 225
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Party planners who work for large hotels or companies are usually provided paid vacations and health insurance. Self-employed planners must provide their own benefits.