Special Event 9/15: How to make your next event sizzle like Broadway on an association budget.
Learn More
Image of a pink clock

Check on Your Event Planners

Christine Reck
They’re listening to “Surface Pressure” from Encanto on repeat

There’s a scene in the movie Taken where former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is trying to negotiate with a ring of international criminals. He growls the phrase “I have a very particular set of skills” into the phone receiver, hoping to scare off the bad guys on the other end of the line.  

You know who else has a very particular set of skills? Your company’s event planners.

These are people who build entire worlds on time, on budget, and fueled solely by coffee. Event planners are diplomats, generals, presidents, and Green Berets all in one. They’re also finance wizards, producers, designers, writers, building inspectors, project managers, IT professionals, and travel agents.  

Event planners are also:

  • Predominantly women (77%)  
  • Age 37, on average
  • Making $9,018 less than the average national salary

We know now that working women of child-bearing age felt the professional effects of the pandemic more than almost anyone else. That goes double (triple? quadruple?) for working women of color. In March 2021, McKinsey reported that one in four women were considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers. Women in heterosexual dual-career couples also reported spending more time on household responsibilities since the pandemic began.

If that feels like a lot, consider that your event planners have also likely:

  • Been laid off or furloughed at least once since March 2020, or are picking up work from someone who was
  • Had to learn how to manage virtual events – an entirely new job that is more akin to being a TV producer than being an event planner
  • Felt the professional effects of COVID (canceled events, lost deposits, worker shortages, and conflicting guidance from health officials) over and over again as new variants emerge
  • Gotten some enticing job offers from your competitors in the last few months

I’m lucky to have planned events with lots of people over the years. Event professionals develop a kind of kinship that sticks around (chalk it up to countless all-nighters spent prepping hotel ballrooms), so I keep in touch with lots of my former colleagues. Many of them look like me – mid-career women with young kids. The other day, in a moment of peak pandemic frustration, I wrote an Instagram post about how much I was struggling to balance everything in this weird Omicron surge. Every single one of my event planner friends responded in affirmation – this is the hardest it has ever been. The hardest it has ever been!  

I’ve seen these people do incredibly hard things without so much as blinking an eye. I once saw a friend administer CPR to a guest during an al fresco reception. Another talked down a patron who was making open threats in the middle of a 700-person forum. Yet another moved a 1,000-person international event within the span of a week when the hotel she booked went on strike. The stories go on and on. Suffice it to say that event planners are some of the toughest people I know.  

The truth is this – organizations are at risk of losing an entire generation of gritty, talented leaders if they don’t do more to support their event planners.

Leaders need to be proactive when it comes to offering support to their event teams. These are professionals who have been trained to be self-reliant. The event planner motto might as well be “I’ve got it under control.”

These are the things your event planners need, but don’t want to ask for:

  • A crystal ball. No one has the time to keep up with the constant deluge of COVID news. 360 can't predict the future, but we can help you prepare. We regularly update our blog with the latest tips and advice for event planners, creatives, and marketers to do their job better.
  • Helpful help. When you’re knee-deep in an event, there’s nothing more frustrating than onboarding someone new. You need a special-ops team to come in, assess the situation, and deliver the help you didn’t even know to ask for. Here’s a case study on how 360 delivered crucial, just-in-time support to a client.
  • A trusted partner. We all need somewhere to turn when the chips are down. An external partner can identify blind spots and reinforce good practices. One way to get feedback and advice is to join our Event Innovators Exchange community led by our VP of event strategy and design, Beth Surmont. The purpose of the community is to work together to share new ideas and build innovative events. Check out our past event recordings and sign up to get notified of our next event. We're hoping to hold the next meeting in person!

More than anything, event planners want to know that you value their work. Bringing in external resources doesn’t have to be a threat, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Do yourself a favor – go talk to your event planners. Ask them what they need. When it’s time to follow through, talk to Jack.  

I’ll be hiding from my toddlers in the guest bedroom of our home, trying to crank out a few more emails.