A successful events coordinator makes an event go off without a hitch, while emphasizing the supervisors' or clients' strategies within the event. Learning to carry out the many large and small tasks associated with an event can make or break a wedding, corporate outing, trade show or other meeting. Fulfilling expectations and dreams will make you indispensable to companies, departments or brides.
Depending on the company you work for, an event coordinator can be a skilled professional who works with minimal oversight or an administrative person who handles specific tasks assigned by a direct supervisor. For example, if you are the top events staff person for a business, you might execute the plans of the marketing or human resources departments, such as organizing an executive retreat or annual employee outing. If you work for an event planner, you might assist the owner handling logistics of weddings, birthday parties or charity fundraisers. This might include coordinating the activities of caterers, entertainers or decorators after contracts are signed.
If you have little or no experience coordinating events, volunteer to work on local 5K races, charity balls, tennis or golf fundraisers or other events that let you sit in on planning meetings and work closely with an event director. The more experience you get working for nonprofits events, the more you’ll learn, and any mistakes you make won’t be as damaging to your career.
Listen and Ask
Because getting one tiny detail wrong can damage an event, it’s critical that you listen carefully when given instructions and ask questions if you’re at all in doubt. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during an initial instruction meeting for fear of appearing unprofessional. Having the wrong audio-visual equipment at a presentation can compromise the speaker. Ordering the wrong tablecloths for a private event can enrage a fussy client. To avoid embarrassing problems, write down every instruction from your source and ask questions later if you are unsure of anything.
Even a simple event can require dozens of details to ensure success. Create checklists that not only list every action item you have, but specify deadlines and details. Instead of simply writing, “Order decorations,” include the due date and the contacts and phone numbers you will use. Include any suggestions your boss or client made about any item. Detailed checklists are the hallmark of successful event professionals.
Verify the Checklist
Before you begin ticking off items on your checklists, review the list to make sure you can perform each item. Call vendors and suppliers well in advance to let them know you will be setting up a contract, giving them your dates, needs and budgets. Finding out at the last minute that a particular vendor you’ve used in the past isn’t available on your date, has changed its services or raised its prices is something you can avoid with early verification phone calls and emails.
Double-Check and Have a Plan B
Just because someone’s told you they will perform for you and you’ve checked an item off your list doesn’t mean your job is done. Have a backup plan to respond to potential last-minute problems. Double-check your list and follow up with vendors, suppliers and other stakeholders to make sure they are on track to meet your deadlines. If you find out a band, catering company, decorator, audio-visual supplier or other key partner has fallen through, your Plan B will save you.
Develop People Skills
When working directly with clients, your main goal is to make them happy. Sometimes, you will not agree with your client’s vision or specific requests, but they pay the bills. Knowing how to gently steer them toward better solutions helps you maintain better relationships, get repeat business and generate referrals. If you work for a business, keeping the boss or an executive happy is always a plus.
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