Event planning services: Event and meeting planners can arrange as little or as much of the event as needed. How they bill for their services varies depending on the consultant or job. Some bill hourly, others by the project. Even though you are paying them for their time, they will more than pay for their services in most cases with their knowledge, experience, and contacts.
Why hire a professional event coordinator? People are often under the misconception that they can save money by doing it all themselves, when in fact it can cost more--not only monetarily, but also in time and headaches! The responsibility of planning an event, especially to a new planner, can be overwhelming. When you hire a professional planner, you hire the confidence that the event will run without any major problems. Experienced planners have tried it all, and have found what works and what doesn't. You can benefit from their experiences.
Time alone is a reason for hiring a professional: If you delegate this job to an employee, that person will make this event a priority and regular duties may get pushed aside. The fees of the professional will not come near the cost for a full-time employee's time.
Coordinator's relationships and knowledge: Established relationships with vendors allow the coordinator to get the best quality and value within budget. Vendors will go the extra mile to make sure this coordinator is pleased, because they know potential business will sprout from a successful event.
Expertise ensures a successful event: True event expertise cannot be learned from a textbook; it comes from trial and error and experience. It is better to hire the coordinator with years of experience than leaving an employee lost in the hundreds of details that will undoubtedly surround an event. Every event has its flaws, but a good coordinator handles those problems before they become serious.
Destination Management Companies (DMCs): Out-of-State planners hire these companies. They specialize in packaging group and VIP events. They can customize local "activities" to fit the planner's need.
Selecting a coordinator: Talk to different consultants before making your final decision. Find out by referral someone who is familiar with your type of meeting or event. Don't be afraid to ask questions or see a portfolio of their work. Ask for and check references. The person or company you select should be someone with whom you feel very comfortable professionally and personally--you will be working closely together over the next several months.
Finding a convention, banquet, or meeting site: A professional planner can be very helpful in finding a site to meet your requirements. Some planners have videotapes, photographs, and specifications for various sites. Their experience in having had an event at that site can be incredibly helpful.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you are specific about the services you will need and your budget. A planner can offer a variety of suggestions to save time, money, and energy. Be sure to read any and all contracts before signing them so there is no confusion later about who is responsible for what and how much it will cost.