Hiring your corporate event planner is an important task, because you’re going to have to work closely with this person throughout your project. To help with the process I’ve come up with 5 questions to ask your planner, before you hire them.
1. What is your area of expertise?
There are clear differences between corporate conferences, trade shows, weddings, launch events, and fundraisers. Ask about their qualifications when it comes to the event you want to hire them for.
What kind of events do they most frequently work on? If you’re in a specific industry and they’ve worked with clients in that industry previously, there’s a good chance they’ll be a better fit than a company that has not worked in your industry.
Its not to say that an organizer has to have a lot of knowledge in your specific market, but it is worth asking for some piece of mind.
2. How do you staff your projects?
If your corporate event planner is a small business, they often rely on themselves as the only full-time employee. (That’s how Event Boutique & Co. works!) Find out how they deal with peak seasons and what do they do when they have two events on one day. Do they book both? What happens if your event clearly requires more than one planner, on the day of?
Make sure they have a roster of reputable planners, that work with them when these situations occur. These planners should have expertise in a number of areas, so the planner can choose the best fit for each client, that will assist them on event day.
It’s important that the person that you will be working with throughout the planning process is the person that shows up on event day. This person knows the in’s and out’s of your event like no-one else and the little details that matter.
3. What is the cancellation/refund policy?
This should be clear in a contract that they present you with but asking is always a good idea. Sometimes situations will come up that are beyond your control.
Most planners will bill you for the hours and services already utilized and possibly an additional charge as your event date could have been filled with another client. Make sure you know the details of their contract terms for cancelling, postponing or changing your event up front.
Also note if there is a clause if the event planning company, cancels on you. What happens in this situation, and how do they plan to manage it?
4. Do you have Liability Insurance?
A professional Corporate Event Planner will answer “Yes”. It protects them, and you. Don’t be afraid to ask how much they are covered for. Most event planners are covered for a minimum of 1 or 2 Million. Check with them if supplemental insurance is recommended or could be required for your organization or event.
Many larger organizations that hire contract Corporate Event Planners require proof of this insurance. If you’re a smaller organization you might not require a certificate, but you should know it is in place.
5. Talk about money
Many event planners structure their event packages differently and that’s why it is so important to be clear on what is included in your services, and what is not.
Before you meet with an event planner, make sure you know your budget, and what you are able to spend on your event, then talk details. Some planner’s charge a flat fee, some go hourly, or even a percentage, of your budget. You might even have an option to choose.
It’s a good idea to ask if they take commission from vendors that they refer. Typically, clients are responsible for paying vendors directly but some planners manage the money in-between. Be clear on how this works with your planner, and decide what you are most comfortable with.
Find out if there are any additional fees you should be aware of like mileage, supplies, etc.
Lastly, get to know their personality. Although you’re contracting out their services and you will not see this person in your office everyday, you’re about to hire someone that you need to work well with. As events get stressful, especially near crunch time, you’ll want to be confident in the person you’ve hired, and it makes your life so much easier if you truly enjoy working with them. It’s always nicer to hire and work with someone you like, and with someone you can see yourself working with again, in the future!
Go with your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for a list of references, either. A good corporate planner will respect that you’re doing your research on them, as they should be doing on vendors, that they hire, for your event.
I hope this helps you when hiring a corporate planner for your next event. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!