Event planning is stressful. This is a well-known fact. CareerCast lists event planning as the fifth most stressful job in the United States in 2016. The role of an event coordinator falls directly below Military Personnel, Fire Fighters, Airline Pilots, and Police Officers. Wow! Now, I agree that events are stressful; after an event, I often feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, but I wonder if event coordinators actually deserve that high of a ranking.
You might be wondering what makes event coordinators rank so high on the scale of stress. Well if you can imagine, keeping a crowd of 500-500,000 people happy might cause a bit of that stress, or all of it.
As coordinators and planners, we deal with budgets, tight timeframes, satisfying human comforts, food allergies, hot and cold rooms, transportation issues, talent hiring, and the list goes on and on. Of course we are stressed! To top it off, we have to plaster a smile on our faces as if we don’t have a care in the world.
I put together a list of 10 customer service skill to help you pull off that “not a care in the world, and you are my only concern in the world” attitude:
1. You were born with 2 ears and 1 mouth
Were you ever told this growing up? Well it turns out that it is a skill set worth knowing – more so than your times tables. Listening is a lost art. Every event planner needs to be a pro at listening to what their client wants to achieve, how they want the event to lay out, and the ultimate goals of the overall event.
It has also been said that if you listen and keep quiet, people will think you’re the smartest person in the room. So, stop talking for the sake of hearing yourself talk and try active listening to get those clients to love you.
2. Be organized!
How is this a customer service skill? Well as the planner, you are in charge of the details and keeping your clients on track for a successful event. Knowing your timelines and having important information available at your fingertips will give your client confidence. It will also help keep them relaxed and reduce their stress.
3. A CAN DO personality
It can be tricky to change a client from a bad idea or idea that doesn’t work to a great event-saving idea. Because “NO” is not in our vocabulary when working with our clients, we have chosen phrases like “That’s an idea, but what about this?” or “I wonder if this wouldn’t work better.” We also give them reasons WHY we feel an idea has merit and what the difference might be.
4. Great negotiation skills
Clients hire you because you have the know-how to work with vendors and get the best pricing available. Understanding what needs to be in the program, working with your vendors to cut the fat and deliver what is need on the event, and helping your client by developing your vendor team are all great customer service skills. Don’t forget that treating your vendors like customers will go a long way in relationship building as well.
5. Radiate energy
Okay, nobody like a lazy, tired, less-than-enthusiastic event planner. You’re in the best industry out there, so don’t be surprised that there are thousands of people ready and willing to replace you. Get that cup of coffee and do your jumping jacks before you greet your client – whatever it takes to pump up your energy levels. Upbeat and energetic attitudes go a long way at an event.
6. Be a super-secret problem solver
Keeping your eyes and ears open and having cat-like reflexes to watch for any impending problems is what you do as an event planner. You are agile, quick, and smart as a whip; nothing gets by you! Solving problems before they become apparent or before you need to inform the client makes the event feel stress-free for your clients.
7. OK TEAM, it’s go time
Having the ability to gather people, delegate, and send the right players in are all the elements of being a great coach. Getting people to achieve tasks effectively and efficiently along with being thrilled to help you out are skills every event planner should have in their back pocket. So get out those playbooks and SCORE a great event!
8. Skin like an armadillo
Armadillos have a tough outer layer of skin and can curl themselves into balls, leaving no soft tissues exposed. Therefore, things can roll right off their back. Nothing negative can get through that tough skin to throw them off their game.
Be like an armadillo by developing tough skin and protecting your “soft tissue” so you can’t get thrown off your game. The event world is fast-paced with live action and not everything is going to go right every time… develop your outer armor!
9. Bounce back quickly
Your clients are counting on your ability to do this. If something happens to go wrong, stay calm, cool, and collected – even when you want to run away screaming down the hall and out the door to never be seen again. Your clients expect you to remain calm so they know that you have it all under control. This enables them to stay calm in return. Remembering to take deep breaths and give yourself a moment to think will produce better results than losing your cool.
Yep, this simple act is the best way to do almost anything in your life; the event world is no exception. Having a smile on your face even when you’re clenching your teeth will make your life easier. It will also keep your vendors and clients feeling happy. This is probably the best way to make things happen. It’s really hard to be rude to someone from the hotel staff if you’re smiling when asking them to bring you a ladder, turn down the heat, or a myriad of other things you will need done to make the event comfortable for your attendees.
Remember, you have the best job ever! Not everyone gets to play in the event world like you do. Keep that smile on your face and hone your customer service skills. This will keep your clients coming back to you year after year to plan their amazing events.
Tracy Fuller, President of Event Heroes, believes in empowering other event and meeting planners to help make the industry a better place. Working together to learn from one another and killing others with kindness are two principles she lives by. When she’s not busy pulling off events that wow or training the next Event Hero, Tracy enjoys sipping wine with friends, painting in her art studio, and attending other great events in her city.